PRB Articles


The Inside Track

Photos Courtesy of Pillar Design Studios, LLC

Action-sport facilities offer sustainable design and construction practices as well as unique recreation opportunities. They are not only an efficient use of unused or perceived unusable land but also designed to be integrated into the natural topography of the area. A facility designed and built properly offers low maintenance and lower consumption of water, while providing flexible programming and seasonal activities. Ultimately, action-sport facilities create a substantial community benefit.

Successful Planning

These facilities can offer a diverse collection of activities for a broad range of users and ability levels, from skate parks and bike parks, to mountain bike parks, and the possibilities really are endless. The rise in action-sport facilities can be attributed to the Olympics, the X-Games, and that more than 13-million kids ride a skateboard in the U.S.

To create a successful action-sports facility, consider the following:

  • Successful facilities are created with the input of the user groups and community members.

  • The design/build method is the preferred construction model for most municipalities because it offers a single point of contact and responsibility for the project.

  • An RFQ with detailed criteria on the project tasks, budget, and experience required is necessary. In order to compare apples to apples, a scoring method should be evident, ranking all proposals and addressing priorities within the RFQ. Avoid focusing only on cost, as the final design of the park typically depicts the cost of the overall project.

Skate Parks

Though skate parks have been around since the 1970s, they have become a common amenity in many parks. They range from small skate spots (starting at 1,500 square feet) to large regional facilities (around 20,000 square feet).

A great example of a skate park designed to fit within an urban environment is the Atlanta Fourth Ward Skatepark in Georgia, just one element in a large multi-use facility that offers green space and recreational opportunities for all ages. The park was designed using sustainable features, such as solar photovoltaic panels (that cover roughly 50 percent of the park’s energy costs), an underground cistern (that doesn’t strain the city’s water resources), and an organic land-care regime (for green space and landscaping maintenance). This 17,000-square-foot skate park was designed by Pillar Design Studios and constructed for $750,000; the skate park truly offers something for all style and skill levels and has become a hot spot in the downtown area.

Mountain Bike Parks

Municipalities all over the U.S. have begun including bike parks into their overall park system. One of their advantages is they do not require significant space to implement. Designs are flexible, typically taking advantage of un-used property, while providing an amenity that goes beyond typical recreational facilities. Mountain bike parks include pump tracks, jump/flow trails, downhill/free ride, and progression dirt jumps.

The city of Redmond, Wash., wanting to provide a park where local riders could practice and develop their riding skills in a safe and controlled environment, set the following goals:

• Develop a bike park for beginner-, intermediate-, and advanced-level riders

• Protect nearby water bodies, native trees, vegetation, and wildlife

• Develop safe pedestrian routes around the bike park area

• Provide clear signage about park rules, safety, and parking

• Improve street frontage along 171st Avenue NE

• Design the park for crime prevention.

The final park encompasses about 1.8 acres with a total cost of $288,000. Pillar Design served as landscape architect and co-designer working with Hilride Progression Development Group. Construction was completed in September 2014.

Nicole Licari Robertson is in charge of New Business Development and Finance at Pillar Design Studios, LLC, located in Tempe, Ariz. Pillar Design Studios was formed to create custom, high-quality facilities that truly adhere to the needs of the community, culture, and values. Its mission is to create quality Action Sports Facilities regardless of available space or prosed budget. From concept to completion, planning through construction--its dedicated, professional staff works hard to ensure success for each facility. Pillar Design Studios wants to share its knowledge and expertise, not only as a leading firm in the industry but also as enthusiasts for all Action Sports. Reach her at Nicole@pillardesignstudios.com .

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