The Washington Park Conservancy is excited to be working with a creative and experienced team of playground consultants from Trowbridge, Wolf, Michaels Landscape Architects (TWMLA) working with Rusty Keeler of Earthplay.


Based in Ithaca, NY, TWMLA was founded with a passion for producing high quality design which is ultimately expressed as built work. Over thirty-five years later, the enthusiasm for and focus on quality at both ends of a design project is still at the center of our firm’s approach and mission. Working collaboratively is a real and essential component of successful projects. Effective collaboration requires effective communication. This includes listening, asking questions, brainstorming, sharing expertise, and providing written and visual story-telling. All projects are ultimately team-based: within the office, within the larger set of architects and engineers on the project, with the client, with the contractor and with the people who will ultimately live, work and play in the spaces we are fortunate enough to design. Our work focuses on landscapes in the public realm including playgrounds, college and university campuses, parks, waterfronts, health care facilities, multi-use trails, streetscapes, brownfields and urban planning. TWMLA is certified as a Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) in New York State.

TWMLA has broad experience developing concepts, engaging the public and crafting spaces inspired by the cultural and natural history of places and working within historic landscapes, especially in upstate New York. Kim Michaels was the project manager of the award-winning Olmsted Parks Master Plan for the Olmsted Parks Conservancy in Buffalo, NY. That project included coordination with a large stakeholder group and multiple municipal and state agencies. Currently, the firm is working on projects within the historic fabric of two state parks, Hamlin Beach and Sonnenberg Gardens. TWMLA strives to provide unique and creative solutions for all ages while developing a distinctive character and sense of place appropriate to the context.

Learn more about our consultants:


Kimberly Michaels


Previously a middle-school English teacher, Kim has practiced landscape architecture for nearly 20 years. She is experienced designing parks, gardens, campuses and estates and is the lead landscape architect for all of the firm’s outdoor play spaces. Kim also serves on the board of the Friends of Stewart Park, a not-for-profit conservancy group for a significant historic park in the City of Ithaca. Stewart Park, a beloved and highly-used civic park, faces nearly identical challenges as Washington Park. Currently, Kim and the Friends group are engaged in phase two of construction of an ambitious inclusive playground. The combination of her background as an educator, a member of a parks-conservancy board and a landscape architect with specialized experience in playgrounds is ideally suited for this project.

Declan Keane

Project manager

Declan brings his experience to a wide variety of projects. A landscape designer by training, he has worked on all phases of the design process, including early concept and visioning, documentation and construction observation. Central to his award-winning work is the pursuit of collaborative solutions to complex landscape and urban design problems. Declan is currently the project manager for TWMLA’s outdoor play project at Letchworth State Park. He was also the project manager for our design of a net-zero education center at the not-for-profit Children’s Garden organization in Ithaca. Declan has extensive client relations and public outreach experience through these and other projects; his enthusiasm, charm and commitment to creating quality spaces is infectious. In addition to Declan’s creativity and directly relevant experience, he is the lead for most of our high-profile graphic representations. Declan’s modeling and illustrative creations are outstanding. His expertise with modeling and graphic production will bring additional value to his role as project manager.

Rusty Keeler

Owner/designer, Earthplay

Over the past 20 years, Rusty Keeler has worked with hundreds of community, school, parks, university, and childcare leaders to dream, design, and construct beautiful outdoor environments for children in more than 30 states and throughout Canada, Europe, China, Australia, and New Zealand. Rusty is one of the pioneers in the movement to reconnect children to nature and his designs reflect his sincere desire to create a more beautiful world in which to grow and explore. Keeler is the author of the book, Natural Playscapes: Creating Outdoor Play Environments for the Soul (Exchange Press: 2008) and is a frequent keynote speaker and presenter at conferences, communities, and colleges worldwide.