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.

8 Responses to “Roxhill meeting #2: kind of a disaster”
  1. Jeremy says:

    What is that yellow flat bar with the black ledge on the bottom part of the skatepark? How are you supposed to skate that, I was trying to figure it out because its surrounded by grass…

  2. Matthew Lee Johnston says:

    That’s just a Street League feature that they’re trying to use. I think it’s just there as an example.

  3. Kristin Ebeling says:

    Hey Matt- Thanks for posting this. I haven’t been very in the loop lately, working 6 days a week (Mukilteo Y + Snocon)….agh

    Anyways, here are some of my design thoughts:

    – If this is a street plaza, that’s great. Let’s not make it a Street league set-up though. Not everyone is Nyjah Huston (yet). I’d like to see at least one small flat bar and ledge (around a foot high or so).

    -A street plaza without a manual pad? Comon now! Let’s see a “pier 7” style manny pad like at Bellevue plaza. This could be put in easily up at the top area.

    -A mellow pyramid hip would be nice, or a “dorito” feature like at Delridge.

    -Kids that skate street will want an area to play SKATE that won’t put them in the way of other skaters. The top area could be made a bit more open to allow for this.

    -The bench with the yellow rail is a waste of money.

    -The identical a-frame and two identical hubbas/two rail down the stairs scenario is boring. I’d like to see more variety, like one side of the a-frame is a rail, the other side is a hubba. Or one side a hubba, the other just a kicker. Or one of the rails is square and small, the other round and taller. The idea of the park should be progression, not how many different rails can you do the same tricks on.

    That’s all I got for now…

  4. Aaron Gates says:

    I was at the meeting. It was really disappointing to hear Colby use the phrase “that’s not our job” when asked to bring in a few different designs. It’s amazing to me that a company can present a design with such obvious problems (I think everyone in the room saw the problems with the bottom right corner immediately). They claimed that they would be able to work with a site like this, and they need to be held to that.

    I think it would help a lot to straighten the thing out and just have two lines that run parallel. That allows more people to use the park at once, and it eliminates the danger spots. It feels like they’re just trying to cram all of the street league obstacles in there. It’s better to have less obstacles arranged in a way that works.

    The other thing would be to make obstacles that are actually fun going back up. You could make the bottom half of one of the big stairsets into a bank and have a euro gap, stuff like that. Right now they just have a couple of narrow banks on the side. That’s pretty boring.

    I hope they start listening.

  5. Dan says:

    I agree with the others. Looks like they just placed the Street League features in there, and not very creatively I might add.
    There’s a stair set that divides the whole park. Why not spread those hubba’s around a bit or make some of the stair area into a euro gap or something creative.
    Everthing about the design just seems to be missing creativity.

    Maybe needs ledges, banks, euro gaps/any gaps, a dab of tranny mixed into some of this all placed in a creative way.
    No one wants to do the same tricks over and over on the same type of features.

    Progression is the key. If the design does not bring progression into your thought process, why build it…

  6. Jason says:

    97% dissapointed. Skateparks are supposed to have features that are fun to skateboard. This looks quite boring. Maybe I do like to hit the rail and jump some stairs but do I really need stairs accross the whole skatepark twice? I don’t usually show up ready to jump stairs and do rails. I need a little warm up fun.

    How about a few more features that are fun as well. Dan’s got it. Ledges, banks, euro gaps, curb cuts, easy ollies, longer grinds, manny pad (no brainer) and maybe a little hip. Let’s not waste space, time, effort and MONEY on a what isn’t the convention center plaza. This is for skateboarding not mass pedestrians. I don’t believe this design is serving the purpose it is meant to.

    FIRE the desinger!

  7. Seedy says:

    I’m several states away, but it sounds like you guys are about to get hosed. In California, We have several useless or close to useless parks for the same reason that you guys are going through now. Skateboarding is a money maker all around and the people that lose out are the people who are using it. Grab the reigns now skaters. Because after they hand a crappy design off to a crappier lowest bidder/contractor, you’ll have a lump of concrete and have to deal with 8 year old scooter kids skating in a circle at the bottom of the stairs complete with self-entitled roid-dads that will fight you for running in to them Of course, said roid-dads were nowhere to be found during the park planning.

  8. jonathan says:

    I would love to see some real street integrated stuff in plazas. I’m talking about a rounded practice rail instead of a squared one. Almost every skatepark in washington relies heavily on square. I’d love to see some change ups.

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