Facility Profile - September 2013
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Something Different
Paine's Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

By Joe Bush

Between 2006 and 2010, the nonprofit client, Franklin's Paine, worked to advance its mission of creating public skateparks in Philadelphia and to advance fundraising work to assemble construction dollars. Meanwhile, the project design was receiving accolades for its different approach and its open public process. Both American Institute for Architects (AIA) Philadelphia and AIA Pennsylvania recognized the project with design awards, and the project was also published in national media outlets.

The City of Philadelphia and State of Pennsylvania stepped up with large funding commitments that by 2011 had the project poised to enter the construction phase. Mayor Michael Nutter and former Governor Ed Rendell were instrumental supporters; the nearly $4.25 million committed between the city and state is the largest amount ever invested by government to a project for skateboarding.

The project encompasses a triangular 2.5 acres of land between Eakins Oval and the Schuylkill River Trail. Only about 50 percent of the site is developed, with the upper plateau preserved as green space. The project includes two major public walkways to better connect people from the Parkway to River Trail.

It also includes a public overlook that, as an urban gesture, is aligned with fountains in front of the Art Museum. At the center of the project is an outdoor stage and seating amphitheatre that allows for public gatherings and serves as a skate-able feature. In fact, the dimension of the amphitheatre seating terraces matches those of the famed LOVE Park fountain terraces. The design mixes granite, brick, cobblestones, concrete and steel with the most landscaping ever planned into a project of this kind.

Bracali said expense was driven by materials, the extra landscaping, rain gardens for stormwater management, lighting systems and challenging conditions due to past site usage. He said the quality of soil and sub-base was poor due to past demolition and burial, which made conditions difficult for drainage and foundations.

Park highlights include a walking path that doubles as a skating course; a 360-degree view of skyscrapers, the Art Museum and the river; and four giant white oaks that Bracali preserved for shade. Features of the park double as useful to both skateboarders and non-skateboarders: the walking path, as well as ledges and benches.

The project consultant team includes Synterra, Ltd., Grindline Skateparks, and Pennoni Associates Consulting Engineers. The original team members included Purkiss Rose/RSI, Damiano & Long Consulting Engineers, SkateNerd, and Qualified Women in Construction. The construction was completed by Bittenbender Construction with Northstar Advisors serving as the owner's representative for Franklin's Paine.

Franklin's Paine: www.franklinspaine.com
Friday Architects/Planners Inc.: www.fridayarc.com