Ganymede | The Schuff-Perini Climber Children’s Museum of Phoenix
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The Schuff-Perini Climber Children’s Museum of Phoenix | Museo de los Niños de Phoenix

When the Monroe School was built in 1914, it was said to be “the most modern grade school in the United States.” As the historic school approaches its hundredth birthday, it’s a lively place of learning where young children explore, inquire and learn using every one of their senses. The centerpiece of the re-imagined, re-energized old building is “The Climber,” an iconic interactive sculpture designed by Ganymede’s principal, Kevin Winters.


It’s a 60-ton, 3-story-high, steel dreamscape that children and adults can climb in, climb on and climb around. They crawl down; they scramble up. Friends huddle to tell secrets in a tippy little house, sail to private destinations in a winged bathtub or race across an airy sea in a boat powered by kid-energy and four pairs of crazy, colorful feet. Peek one direction and see a flock of butterflies resting lightly nearby. Glance another way and catch the glimmer of sparkling fish. Tiny adventurers cling to the walls, bravely balance, or face their fears along the way as they explore the secure, but seemingly precipitous end of each branching element. At the pinnacle is a rocket-ship crown…or is it Wonka’s Great Glass Elevator just waiting for you to blast it into space?


Constructed of structural steel and safely (but imperceptibly) enclosed, the stairs, troughs and platforms are made of standard building materials, found objects and unexpected, recycled materials. There is a third floor observation deck, too, which allows every visitor – even those with limited mobility – to experience the heart of the Climber.


Like every work of art, it’s imagination become reality. Like every great exhibit, it’s an experience that can be completely different every time.


“Kevin’s ideas are both thoughtful and daring. Working with him has been a delight. Everyday I walk through the doors, look up at the structure and light up with an insatiable grin as I realize that our dreams are being fulfilled. It takes someone of Kevin’s caliber and creative spirit, and a carefully assembled team, to create something as distinctive and unique as our climbing structure.” –– Nancy Stice, Director of Exhibits, Children’s Museum of Phoenix


Best of Year , Installation. 2010 Interior Design, top 4 Merit Award
Best of the Best Awards 2010 – McGraw Hill Construction, Southwest region, Small project (under $10 Million). Best of the year.
Best of the Best Awards 2010 – McGraw Hill Construction, National, Small project (under $10 Million). Best of the year.
RED Awards, Best of Year, Special Merit. 2011

Photos courtesy of Timmerman Photography