I’m afraid Roxhill skatepark design process, but more specifically California Skateparks/SITE Design’s approach to designing it, is quickly becoming the disaster we were worried about.
The meeting last night wasn’t super packed, but the skaters that were there were clearly underwhelmed by the California Skateparks offerings. You can check out most of it by looking at West Seattle Blog’s comprehensive coverage of the meeting.
For one thing, SITE’s Colby Carter brought a single design to the meeting. Typically the second meeting involves 3 alternatives which encourages dialogue, as opposed to one option which really feels more like “this is what you are getting.” I also wonder if all the time spent with Joe Ciaglia up to this point (1 public meeting, 1 SPAC meeting) was really well spent as the design shown last night didn’t really feel like an evolutionary step in the process but yet another total reboot in a series of disjointed iterations.
The one positive thing I’ll say is that they did move the design toward a pure street plaza, which is something we did suggest at the last SPAC meeting. I still think that we should simply focus this design and make a great park for street skating FIRST, and not try to water it down by adding some token transition elements, because that won’t serve either audience very well. The site is too small for a hybrid design. But it seems that Colby has taken that direction as permission to get out his skatepark construction kit software and phone in a boilerplate design that doesn’t go far enough in terms of making the best use of this challenging site.
I think what we’re seeing here is the difference between a designer that’s “donating” their work, as opposed to what we normally see, which is a designer working hard to earn the precious and rare revenue (especially these days) that is coming from public funding. We kept hearing from Seattle Parks that they couldn’t afford to turn down such a generous “donation” from the Dyrdek Foundation/CSP in these financial times, even if the firm donating these services wasn’t being vetted through the typical public process. I think now we’re seeing the real cost of subverting the public process that requires competition and public input for designer selection.
(BTW: I keep putting donation in quotes because really, the value of the design services in question have been grossly misrepresented by both Seattle Parks and California Skateparks/Dyrdek Foundation. One letter from Parks and the Mayor claimed a valued of “over $100K,” but Seattle Parks has since adjusted that number to +/- $30K, a small price to pay to win the contract for a skatepark project in a city that has a city-wide skatepark plan with 27 more parks in it.)
I see several issues moving forward that need to be addressed immediately:
– So far the process and California Skateparks hasn’t shown that they’re respecting the input from the skateboarders. They say they are, but situations like last night where we’re showed only one option leave us with the (possibly incorrect) impression. We haven’t seen a whole lot evidence of input feeding back into the design process. Which, real or not, makes these meetings feel like window dressing. The difference between last night and recent meetings for Delridge, Jefferson, Northgate, and Judkins couldn’t be more pronounced. This doesn’t feel collaborative at all, which sucks. Honestly, at this point, I don’t know what to do about this other than getting the design presented last night posted on the web as soon as possible and get more feedback via the internet channels. (See below)
– The current design doesn’t flow and there are obvious areas where lines conflict. For one thing there is no way to get back up, so effectively what we have here is a ski hill situation with everyone riding downhill and then walking back up to take another one. We know the site’s elevation changes are presenting a challenge for this designer, and we’re not expecting them to reverse gravity, but last night we got an excuse and some finger pointing at the city and Seattle Parks. This seems unacceptable as a skatepark designer’s job is to solve these problems through great design.
– There was very little variance in the features in last night’s design. Lots of duplication. I thought the idea that the youngest skater in the house last night, to vary the heights of the features, was a good one.
What do you think?
Post your comments here about the design and we’ll make sure they get recorded and considered in the process. Also, if you care about this park enough to post a comment, you should also consider showing up to the next meeting on Monday, November 14th at the Southwest Branch library (35th/Henderson), 6PM.
To be fair I think Joe/Colby are in a tight spot with a very challenging site, but the fact that they are “donating” their services is contributing to a situation where we need to push them a little harder to get a quality product. Even they would say that they need more input, so let’s give it to them. Post up.