Finally!!! Public Space for Skateboarding
By Brian Nugent
In 2001 a group of skaters and supporters formed the Franklin's Paine Skatepark Fund. Their mission was to get something done, not so sure exactly what but something. Years passed, designs were created, people got crazy, LOVE Park had drama, the story is long and depending on who you ask not even true. I'm not here to set the record straight, I just want to share the facts that matter to the eager street skaters and the people who care about them. I emailed Claire Laver, the Executive Director of Franklin's Paine Skatepark Fund, and asked her some questions about Paine's Park. I then recreated the common questions I have heard over the years and with her help was able to provided answers and a little background.
When Is the Park open to Skate?
The skatepark is set to be open for May 2013. That's 7 months away, not so bad.
Whats the deal with this whole public space nonsense?
Yes, it's true. Paines Park will serve as both a public space and a skatepark. This truly public space skatepark will be the first on Earth. When compared to skateparks its the most real plaza, the coolest design and costs way too much. When compared to public space, its the first designed with skateboarding as its most dedicated activity and costs about the same or perhaps even less per square foot. It has tons of green space, amazing natural shade, lots of flat ground, a full access stage, terrace seating and so much more.
That's stupid! Why bother letting other people hang out in our skatepark?
Cities are banning skateboarding while building skateparks that many street skaters feel lack something more then just ledges. We were inspired by this challenge and the end result is this project. Public space for skateboarding is something street skaters invented the first time they rolled off a curb. The idea was always right in front of us. If the city decided we are no longer permitted to use its public space, lets build more city with us in mind and allow everyone to share. So its about sharing, something we learned in Kindergarten.
So why did it take so long and why does it cost so much?
The design and construction process of a public space is different than the development of a recreation facility serving one purpose like skateboarding. The complexity of this unique concept is the main reason why this project took so long. I had a heavy hand in the development and promotion of the concept along with Josh Nims (founder of Franklin's Paine). Anthony Bracali (Architect) was the first non-skateboarder who had insight on the vision and understood why we loved skating public space so much. He helped us realize how and why those public spaces are developed.
So, does that mean that we are eventually going to get kicked out by the cops and the city will take it away from us?
LOL! Are you serious? We discovered, conceptualized, created and raised funding for this space. Ed Bacon (the man who created LOVE Park) supported our idea all the way to his grave. I know Philly cops are crazy some times and the government is confusing and hard to understand. But no, they can't and won't take it away from us. If you are spreading rumors about that happening then clearly you did not sit in on ANY of the thousands of meetings that made this project come to fruition.
What's the schedule? Who runs the park? Do I have to wear pads?
The park is located within Fairmount Park and will be subject to the Parks and Recreation's general rules and regulations. This means the park opens at 6am and has a 1am curfew. It also falls under the "use at your own risk" policy and will require no supervision or safety equipment whatsoever. So what was it you said about "public space" being a stupid idea?
Will bikers and other self-powered vehicles be allowed to shred the park along with skaters?
The park is free and open for all to enjoy including both active and passive recreational users. Truth is we all gotta get along when it comes to being in public. Bums will sleep on benches, lame girls will want to ask you if you ever met Bam, tourists will want to take photos and yes bikers will film their videos early in the morning while the skaters are sleeping in. A lot of effort has been put into the details of many areas to withstand bike damage. Only time will tell how this turns out. In my opinion the only risk to public space for skateboarding is the damage caused by bike pegs. Who knows, maybe bikers will finally realize that doing a peg grind is about as cool as a pressure flip.
Will the park be built in phases?
Yes, two phases and both phases are scheduled to be completed May of 2013. The first phase is all site and ground work that layout the park including drainage, footings, landscape and much more. In April the second phase will wrap up with the finish concrete work, granite pavers, metal edging, railings, painting and finishing touches on the landscape. Keep in mind we are coming up on winter fast so who knows what may happen with snow and ice. A delayed opening is much better than flaws due to rushing through winter and causing cracks.
So much time has passed. Has the design been changed or updated?
From what I learned from Claire the overall layout and design has not changed much. They did however make some adjustments to the final design to incorporate value engineering items that have to do mostly with landscape, storm water management, and to save some money on materials. Also Grindline (Skatepark Design Build company) came on board to review the design for skateability and flow. I have not seen any revised renderings myself but hopefully these guys know what they are doing and it's gonna be awesome. As far as street skating goes I can't think of any terrain that was at one time great for skating and no longer is. It seems that only skatepark specific terrain has gone out of style with time.
Who designed the park and who will build it?
To quote what Claire wrote: "The park was initially designed by Franklin's Paine, Anthony Bracali from AB Arch (now Friday Architects), Brian Nugent from SkateNerd and Synterra Ltd with significant input from the local skate community. Grindline skateparks joined the design team this year and helped us to update and finalize the design with input from some local pros including Kerry Getz and Brannon John. We will announce our construction team sometime during the week of October 8th."
How much will the park cost and who is paying for it? Will it be named after some corporation?
The total project cost will come in around $4.6 Million. Your tax dollars paid for most of the park. Funds were contributed by the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Funding was also secured from the City of Philadelphia through a Cultural Corridor Bond and Parks and Recreation. Lots of private individuals contributed as well as the Tony Hawk Foundation. Anyone can now purchase bricks and pavers and have their name included in the park with minimal visual impact. So there will not be any huge soda pop logo or gigantic macaroni statue bringing down the look of the park. "Schuylkill River Skatepark Project" was the first name used to secure the project and gain interest. That evolved into the name "Paines Park." My favorite name was suggested by Ricky more than 10 years ago. He always wanted to call it "Roger Brown Park" after the man who inspired the movement of street skaters in Philadelphia.
Thanks to everyone who contributed and believed in the vision since day one. I personally want to thank Liz Kerr, Bryan Lathrop, Josh Nims, Sean Carboy, Metal, Brad Hoffman, Claire Laver, Nick Orso, Anthony Bracali, Jon Finnegan, Scott Kip and the late Ed Bacon.
> Paine's Park Details
> Groundbreaking on Haveboard
> Parks and Recreation's rules and regulations
Paine's Park Images
Supplied by Franklin's Paine Skatepark Fund
Plan view of the entire park.
The stage, terrace and plenty of bricks banks to skate.
More of the banks.
A vew from the bike path to the terrace.
Another view from path more toward the street.
Sketch featuring the terrace.
Sketch featuring a granite bench.
Sketch featuring the stage.
A view toward the Art Museum across the stage.
A view from the terrace toward the city.
The park is right here! Those are the Rocky Stairs in the upper right.
Over look sketch from below.
Over look rendering from above.
Rendering of the entire park toward the Art Museum.
Paine's Park Ground Breaking
Friday October 12th 2012
11 AM at the Skatepark Site
Where is it?
Martin Luther King Jr. Drive & Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, PA
Along the Schuylkill River Bike Trail right near the Art Museum