Beyond Concrete: Specific Ideas for Skateparks
Skateboarding was invented in 1958, and the first boards that resemble today’s were built in the early 1960s. Even with this long history, skateboarding, perhaps more than any other sport, lives online and in social media (SP4D Facebook & Instagram). Skaters express themselves on these platforms, showing new skills, learning from others, and creating the heartbeat of community and friendship that pulses among skaters. As a result of this passion , the biggest brands in the world make content just for online platforms to get closer to fans around the world (Nike Skateboarding's YouTube and Adidas Skateboarding's Instagram.)
SHARE ONLINE: Dallas’s Bachman Lake skatepark should consider the importance of sharing online in its design. Bachman Lake itself provides an iconic backdrop, as do the Southwest Airlines flights above the park. By providing features, that allow the skaters to express their creativity in terms of how they ride the feature will help build the parks & cities reputation throughout the skateboard communities online.
Skatepark designs can reflect the story of a place, and reflect the culture (Barcelona's Skate Agora, Oslo Norway's Skate Hall) and project a positive image. Since a park can be built in any shape, and skaters love the creative, artistic challenge of figuring out how to ride a sculpture, skateparks have included features such as ride-able spoons and plates, rideable literature, that are literally art and sculpture and skateboard feature all rolled into one.
THE STORY OF DALLAS & ITS CITIZENS: Dallas has an amazing story to tell, and the skatepark can reflect that story in its design. That design can be art and sculpture that reflects the best of Dallas’s potential. Dallas is the birthplace of innovators in all genres, including business, sports, retail and music. We invented the convenience store, the frozen margarita machine and are birthed to musical legends from the original blues pioneers of Deep Ellum, continuing through to Stevie Ray Vaughan, Erykah Badu and St. Vincent.
But most importantly, Dallas’ new skatepark will be a public park, intended for all of Dallas’ residents, both skater and non-skater. As we consider these different users, let’s look at ways we can enhance the experience.
ACCESSIBLE: A park that is convenient to visit is a park that will get visited. To help, the park should be accessible by multiple modes of transportation, including DART, bicycle, by foot and by car so people of all ages and incomes can get there. The intended location at Bachman Lake is immediately adjacent to the Bachman DART station, where there is parking, and sidewalks to access the park. From Akard Station downtown to Bachman Station is a 21 minute DART ride on the GREEN or ORANGE line, departing every 10 minutes. It proximity to Dallas Love Field even makes it convenient for visitors.
SKATEABLE: Skaters care most about the features they skate, so hiring an experienced firm that knows how to build great skateparks with flowing lines, that can handle how popular this park is sure to be is critical. The park should be suitable for skaters from beginners to experts, and allow the skaters to express themselves and their skills. The park should be built with quality and durability so it lasts a long time in a low maintenance way. Dallas is a town of high achievers, and the skatepark can be a venue where our local skaters can express their skills and creativity.
DAY & NIGHT, 365 DAYS PER YEAR: Skaters will skate the park day and night, and skateparks are often a cities single most popular park. Lighting a skatepark to make it rideable at night is a great way to improve the return on investment and keep the park safe. Since Dallas gets hot in the summer, shade, water fountains and features that reduce puddling from rain and the heat island from the sun increase the value and utility of the park itself.
Like all people, skaters have moms and dads, grandparents, brothers and sisters and children of their own. The skatepark should be welcoming to all. The skatepark will be located in a popular existing Dallas park, so it is sure to draw many curious onlookers, so everyone should feel safe and welcome when visiting. There are many attributes of the design that can make the park a wonderful place to visit even if you don’t plan on practicing ollies or dropping into the half pipe.
SAFETY & COMFORT: Both grandparents and little kids will want to see the skatepark, even if they don’t choose to ride, features can be designed to allow spectators to enjoy the space safely. Just don't tell grandma that she can't ride (AARP's Sisters of Shred, ESPN).
The Dallas Parks Foundation, Skateparks for Dallas, and the Dallas Parks & Recreation Department are working together on the Bachman Lake skateboard park to contribute to the continued positive evolution of the city for all residents. The skatepark can become a significant asset to the city by being executed with quality for its intended audience of skateboarders, but also as a welcoming place for their families in friends through great urban design. Creating a park that reflects the energy and spirit of our city, through art, sculpture, and music, is an opportunity to take a truly forward looking approach. Lastly, a park that is iconic, beautiful and usable 365 days per year, by incorporating innovative shade design, comfortable spectating zones can only serve to make the best big city in Texas even better.
In preparation for this article, we consulted the online resources of The Project for Public Spaces. Read more about their work and learn about their insights about great parks here. We also worked with Trevor Morgan of New Line Skateparks (Canada) and Yann Curtis of SPA Skateparks (Austin, TX). New Line and SPA have partnered to build a majority of the DFW area skateparks. Trevor (40) has been a skateboarder since he was 6 years old, is a father of two daughters (5 & 3 years old) who skateboard, and a public advocate. At 15, he convinced his home city of Calgary to build their first park, and has been a champion of positive community engagement ever since. The park generates over 35,000 visitors a year.
Visit Beyond Concrete Part 3 for illustrative photos of great park design features.
For further inspiration, here are additional resources for exploration:
Aspirational skatepark design in the real world:
The Oslo Norway Skatehall, featured in an architecture blog: https://www.archdaily.com/804337/oslo-skatehall-dark-arkitekter
The iconic Skate Agora a short train ride from downtown Barcelona, Spain https://www.skateagora.com/la-plaza/
Real life skaters who defy expectations:
London’s Very Old Skateboarder: http://theberrics.com/londons-very-old-skateboarders/
Lizzie Armanto, Pro Skateboarder about her role models and herself as a role model for girls, and skateboarding as a form of self expression: https://www.facebook.com/lizziearmanto/videos/1986071004753647/
Wells Fargo team member who founded SkateMD that heal hearts by spreading kindness and skateboarding to special populations of children facing developmental, physical, emotional or family challenges
Fun article about things invented in Dallas:
Margarita Machine, 7-11 and the Microchip by Texas Instrument’s Nobel Prize Winner Jack Kilby: https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/dallas/things-to-thank-dallas-for-dallas-inventions