EarlySpace is a play and landscape design company based in Arlington, Virginia, that creates natural play spaces, outdoor classrooms, and sustainable landscaping for homeowners, schools, and children’s programs. They believe in “connecting people, especially children, to nature and bringing nature to places where children are, through sustainable design.”1Additionally they believe that play spaces are best when they reflect the community, culture, and indigenous materials of the area.

Nancy Striniste founded EarlySpace in 1989 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  Nancy’s background as an early childhood teacher, with an undergraduate degree from Wheelock College, was augmented by studying design at North Carolina State College of Design, Tufts University, and Harvard Graduate School of Design.  Her passion for creating places that “nurture and heal” was initially expressed through the creation of interior spaces: hands-on museum exhibits, childcare interiors, and even an airport play space.  Eventually her practice expanded to include the design of schoolyards and playgrounds.

In 2002, Nancy and EarlySpace moved to Arlington, Virginia where in 2009 she earned a master's degree in Landscape Design from George Washington University.  As principal designer at EarlySpace, her work for the past decade has focused exclusively on creating “earth-friendly, people-friendly landscapes” that “draw people outside, connect them to nature and nourish their souls.”2

Nancy and EarlySpace offer school workshops, design consulting, and play space construction. As a teacher she knows that “time outdoors in nature reduces stress, improves health, and enhances creativity, learning, and attention span in children and adults.”3 And as a designer, she understands the complexities of combining educationally sound and environmentally sustainable designs.

EarlySpace and Nancy were honored in 2012 with two design awards: The DC Metropolitan Council of Governments 1st Prize Green Garden and the NoVA Outside Green School Award Winning Natural Playspace.4

  • 1. “Landscape design fosters healthy kids.” Inspired Spaces Magazine. < http://www.inspiredspacesmagazine.com/landscape-design-fosters-healthy-kids/ > 6 March 2013.
  • 2. “About Nancy.” EarlySpace. < http://earlyspace.rowosomoso.com/index.cfm?scn=ws&dsp=pageread&vw=412 > 20 Feb. 2013
  • 3. “Want more time outdoors?” EarlySpace. < http://www.earlyspace.com > 20 Feb. 2013.
  • 4. Striniste, Nancy. Personal Correspondence to Playground Professionals. 8 March 2013.