An Experienced Team

Our core group has more than 100 years of combined experience leading volunteers in the design and construction of hundreds of community-built playgrounds throughout the U.S. as well as in Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. All members of our design-and-build team are Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSIs).

All members of our team are Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSI) with broad experience in the community-built field as former employees of a world-renowned playground architect. Examples of our work during that employment can be found throughout North America, as well as in Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

dave iannello

Designer, Builder and Project Manager
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dave iannello

Dave Iannello is a gifted and talented artist, designer, project manager and builder with a career spanning 30 years in the world of community-built playgrounds, working most of that time with nationally acclaimed architect Bob Leathers, pioneer of custom-designed community-built creative playgrounds. At the time of his departure from Leathers, Dave was company vice president and senior designer/head of design. He personally facilitated the completion of hundreds of custom-designed community-built play environments throughout the U.S. and in several foreign countries. Dave is co-founder of Play by Design, a company specializing in the imagination, design, and creation of safe, affordable one-of-a-kind play environments, distinctly suited to individual client’s needs. As a nationally certified playground safety inspector (CPSI), Dave has full knowledge of the safety standards and guidelines that apply to today's playground industry. Dave's playground design work has won numerous awards, as well as awards received for his work in historic preservation. He also has experience working in the architectural field.

lee archin

Designer, Builder and Project Manager
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lee archin

Lee Archin is a gifted designer, community organizer, project manager and builder. He was a construction consultant and project manager at Leathers for 18 years, completing hundreds of community-built playgrounds. Lee is co-founder of Play by Design, a company specializing in the imagination, design, and creation of safe, affordable one-of-a-kind play environments, distinctly suited to individual client’s needs. He is a nationally certified playground safety inspector (CPSI) and knows the safety standards and guidelines that apply to today’s playgrounds. Recently, Lee spent 6 weeks in Afghanistan organizing the successful community builds of 11 playgrounds in Kabul. He was also responsible for the successful completion of 2 post-tsunami playgrounds in India, including community organization, sourcing indigenous materials, and coordination of community volunteers through construction to successful completion. Lee is an advisory member to Playgrounds from the Heart, a nonprofit organization based in Sevierville, TN. He holds a BA in business from the State University of New York.

dennis wille

Designer
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dennis wille

Dennis Wille, designer, received his BFA and MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Dennis has a broad array of design experience, including nearly 20 years designing community-built playgrounds. During his tenure with an internationally known playground firm, he conducted nearly 400 “Design Day” events throughout the U.S. and internationally. From the very beginning of his playground design career, he has worked to push the envelope toward highly inclusive play environments. During college, he worked with developmentally disabled children and adults who had experienced spinal and head trauma, which instilled in him an understanding of and compassion for the unique challenges and needs of this population. As a playground designer, he seized the opportunity to create a more user-friendly world, one playground at a time. He works closely with committees, parents, therapists, and teachers to develop inclusive playgrounds, and at times, new components, in some cases for the specific needs of an individual child. While working for his former employer, Dennis designed some of the most inclusive playgrounds you will find anywhere, including projects in Port Washington, WI; Oconomowoc, WI; Racine, WI; Manitowoc, WI; Mechanicsburg, PA; Lancaster, PA; Lake Charles, LA; Lubbock, TX; Concord, CA; Louisville, KY and many others. Today, as a designer with Play by Design, he continues with his quest to create user-friendly, inclusive playgrounds, not only for children, but also for parents, caregivers and anyone who has experienced difficulty accessing play areas.

lisa deshano

Designer and Project Manager
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lisa deshano

Lisa DeShano, designer and project manager, has nine years of community-built playground experience. After receiving her architectural degree from the University of Michigan, she designed buildings for three years. Her creative spirit led her to take a chance, and she left the corporate setting to design community-built playgrounds. Her current position designing inspiring playgrounds with Play By Design is the perfect fit. If she misses your call, Lisa may be leading yoga classes at the University of Iowa, a local retirement community, or a group of breast cancer survivors.

michael cohen

Builder and Project Manager
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michael cohen

Michael Cohen, builder and project manager, grew up in Brighton and London, England. He received a B.Sc. with honors from Middlesex University in society and technology. After moving to the U.S. in 1980, he built and renovated homes for 10 years before embarking on a career as a playground professional. He worked for an internationally known playground firm for 21 years, helping hundreds of grassroots community groups create outstanding volunteer-built children’s playgrounds. In addition to working for Play By Design, Michael created Must Have Play to design and build innovative playgrounds to meet the needs of elders for attractive and effective places to exercise, socialize, and play.

nancy ten kate

Finances and Human Resources
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nancy ten kate

Nancy Ten Kate manages finances and human resources. Before joining Play By Design, she handled human resources, including management, performance reviews and payroll, and wrote all company literature for Leathers & Associates for 11 years. Before that, Nancy worked for American Demographics for 16 years as managing editor, where she wrote and edited articles, negotiated print contracts, supervised editorial and production staff, and managed annual budgets. She is also the co-owner of Ten Kate Grant Services LLC. She has a degree in business administration.

mark cushing

Builder and Project Manager
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mark cushing

Mark Cushing has been thinking, designing and building in wood for over 40 years. Mark originally became interested in the playgrounds while subcontracting for Bob Leathers back in the mid-1990s. He is a CPSI [Certified Playground Safety Inspector], and in recent years has gotten involved in building and drafting playgrounds for Play By Design. He studied woodworking and furniture design at Alfred University College of Art & Design under the renowned wood sculptor Tom Lacagnina from the Wendell Castle School. He went on to be Tom's assistant for a few years. Following that, he was a carpenter in Bennington, VT, and Williamstown, MA, before joining a small custom furniture shop in Troy, NY. From there he went on to a large AIA architectural millwork shop in Albany, and eventually fore-manned the cabinet/millwork shop for Collins' in Troy, NY. He moved to Ithaca in the late 1980s, where he first partnered in a custom shop (Precision Woodworks - a division of Precision Builders) and eventually opened his own business: Cushing Woodworks/Cushing Builders, which he has run for over 20 years, doing custom cabinetry, architectural millwork, and an occasional piece of commissioned furniture. Mark has had a parallel musical career, making, playing and teaching the Scottish bagpipes, having studied with two of the Queen's pipers in Scotland (Bob Brown and Bob Nicol). When he is not helping build or draft a playground, he is either going to one of his grandchildren's birthday parties, building something [often bagpipes!] out of wood, or leading the award-winning Finger Lakes Pipes & Drums of Ithaca, NY.

barry segal

Building Coordinator and Project Manager
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barry segal

Barry has been involved in the playground industry since 1981 when he started working for Leathers & Associates which at the time was a local, three person architectural firm. During his thirty years at the firm he helped build it into an international and award winning playground design and community build company. His role with the company was a designer, project manager, community organizer, and building coordinator. While there he was very passionate about developing methods that would assist ordinary moms and dads in producing a quality built structure. After the years of working with volunteers in the community built process, Barry was compelled to co-found two non -profits: Community Faith Partners which brings people of faith together to repair houses for the less fortunate and Project Hope, a youth oriented ministry that works with homeless and incarcerated youths. Additionally, through out his life, Barry continued his education pursing a masters in Vocational Education and degrees in Construction Technology, Addiction Recovery Counseling, and Business Management. After temporarily leaving the playground industry, Barry started a construction company that focuses on residential and light commercial construction and simultaneously started two other ministries, one that provides permanent supportive housing to men coming out of addiction, incarceration, and homelessness, and the other provides housing and a friendly environment for international graduate students and visiting scholars. While continuing his personal operations Barry gladly reentered the playground world when Play by Design needed assistance in meeting their construction demands. When not building playgrounds, people lives, or new homes, Barry also likes to encourage and assist people in starting their own small business. Barry recently remodeled a 40' houseboat (which he lives on 6 months our the year) and is currently building a tiny house.

nathan irving

Builder and Project Manager
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nathan irving

Nathan Irving grew up in central New Hampshire. He received a BA from Bennington College, after which he joined his father’s construction business building custom homes. After more than a decade of carpentry and construction, he moved to Ithaca, New York to pursue a Master’s in Landscape Architecture at Cornell University. He volunteered on a Leathers’ build and was subsequently offered a position with that company. He left Leathers after a year to finish his MLA, and after completing his studies, built several custom treehouses and playhouses around Ithaca. Nathan has also worked for Habitat for Humanity as a project manager in the Cortland/Tompkins County area, and volunteers with local school drama programs as a set builder. He has his CPSI certification.

History of Play by Design

Play by Design is a playground design firm that specializes in working with communities to design and provide safe, affordable, and unique volunteer-built playgrounds for children of all abilities. We begin with the design, then provide project management and organizational assistance to the committee, and finally on-site supervision of the volunteer work force during construction.

Co-founders Dave Iannello and Lee Archin began Play by Design based on their vision and passion for design and quality construction. Both are talented designers and community organizers who have more than 40 years experience leading volunteers in the design and construction of community-built playgrounds. Our staff has a combined 100 years of experience working in the community-built field and have worked on hundreds of playgrounds throughout the U.S. and in many other countries. We employ designers, project managers and construction consultants. All of our designs meet and exceed the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines. At the completion of your community build, one of our Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSIs) inspects the playground. As CPSIs, we are well-versed in current industry standards and guidelines for safety and accessibility.

Partners

All members of our team are Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSI) with broad experience in the community-built field as former employees of a world-renowned playground architect. Examples of our work during that employment can be found throughout North America, as well as in Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Resources

All members of our team are Certified Playground Safety Inspectors (CPSI) with broad experience in the community-built field as former employees of a world-renowned playground architect. Examples of our work during that employment can be found throughout North America, as well as in Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.