Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Skate Break: Architectural Link

By Ryan Northcutt

For most people architecture and skateboarding don’t have much in common, and for a few they believe that there should never be a mix. Now I do have some bias on this topic since my background is in both. Because of my backgrounds I do see a link between the two. I am sure there is a large number of architects who still skateboard, or at least I would hope, who take notice of this movement of transportation and art. For those who do, hats off because its an important topic.
            Now there is one big issue… designs that become buildings are likely to include a skate paradise, and yes skateboards do tear up terrain over time. And I absolutely have to preach that there are solutions for that. People say to skaters, stop skating or go to jail, blah blah blah. Well then build a skate park, its as simple as that action. They cost too much? This issue creates an endless cycle. Skaters respond to the ignorance of people who don’t understand what a skate park actually is. My last post I explained the skateboard community, well how is a skate park any different than a farmers market? It’s a community experience and it creates a safe environment. Understanding this link between skateboarding and architecture solves an issue.
            Now skate parks as an architectural element are amazing. It is urban planning actually, just on a small scale. Many skate parks are being replaced with what is called a skate plaza. If you could imagine a beautifully designed urban plaza, then add a couple of skateboard elements and you have an aesthetically pleasing sports arena right in your city block that creates a safe community gathering place. And not to mention gets those pesky skateboards away from your corporate office entrance stairs.
            To finish off I would like to share a couple skate parks that are brilliantly designed, and perhaps those architects who do skateboard will understand that there is a job market in skate park design. It is urban design after all and it also is perfect community builder.
            The first is Love Park, designed by urban planner Edmond Bacon. This is a great example of a fight between skaters and the city. Ironically Edmond Bacon supported skateboarding in Love Park.

Next is the DC skate plaza, first of its kind and supported and designed by skateboarder Rob Dyrdek. Rob is notorious for his shows on MTV but also Safe Spot Skate Spots, an organization that creates safe skate plazas in large citys.

This last picture is a response to skateboarders being shunned from society, but is a wonderful example of how to use space that isn’t being used for anything.

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