Guest Column - April 2009
Find a printable version here

Skateparks

The Rite Site, The Right Design

By Peter Whitley


Less Can Be More

There are two significant "less is more" lessons in skatepark design.

In terms of skatepark expense, frugal planners facing today's difficult budget constraints are looking at concrete as their skatepark "bargain." With maintenance costs being a concern, compared to wood or wood-polymer obstacles, concrete is the economical choice. Cosmetic maintenance is all that is typically required of a properly designed and built concrete facility. While concrete can incur slightly more up-front expense—especially if the facility is part of a larger site development—the number of users concrete skateparks attract compared to the operational cost will quickly demonstrate that your concrete skatepark is one of the best deals you can find.

In terms of skatepark design, it's much better to provide a broad, open area with professionally designed forms than a lot of structures in a small space. It is important to understand that the open, flat space between the structures is a difficult and imperfect science that takes a skilled and experienced designer to deliver successfully. When the forms are positioned in a way that capitalizes on the natural physical rhythm of the skater, the space can come alive and your skating community will be energized by the facility.

Odds are good that you are thinking about your future skatepark. We encourage you to go into that project with a bold vision. When you're unsure about an aspect of skatepark development, contact your nearby communities that have successful parks. You can also count on the volunteers at Skaters for Public Skateparks for experienced advice.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Peter Whitley is a board member of Skaters for Public Skateparks, and author and designer of the Public Skatepark Development Guide. For more information, visit www.skatepark.org.