Go Skateboarding Day, or simply Go Skate Day, started in 2004 and is celebrated around the world on or around the 21st of June, in conjunction with the first day of Summer. Skaters totaling in the millions gather in major cities and celebrate the sport, and their right to shred. New York City is regarded as the home of one of the largest gatherings, and has received special recognition from the US Congress as an official Holiday. How rad is that? The NYC chapter is run by Steve Rodriguez, founder of 5boro Skateboards.
This year’s Go Skate Day NY was also marked by the opening of a brand new, all concrete skate park in the Lower East Side, under the Manhattan Bridge, the Coleman Oval Skatepark. It almost seemed as if the project would not be ready and open in time for GSD, but many hard working folks came together and made it happen including Steve Rodriguez, Nike, Architecture for Humanity, California Skate Parks, Tony Hawk Foundation, P-Rod Foundation and the NYC Parks Department. At 3pm the park opened to hundreds of skaters including some pros (Chad Muska, Erik Koston, Erik Ellington, P Rod, Alex Olson, Ishod Wair, and more) for what could only be described as a “roller-derby” style session with boards (and bodies) flying everywhere at any given moment. Check out our video above plus this exclusive interview with one of the key players in making this park happen, Architecture for Humanity.
Mass Appeal: What is Architecture for Humanity’s role in the building and opening of the Coleman Oval Skatepark?
Architecture For Humanity: We have a partnership with Nike and the Gamechangers Sports Micro-Venture Fund, supporting programs and partners that, through sport, address critical issues in their community. Our role for this project began while managing the Gamechangers request for proposal process and vetting potential partners and projects, aiding in the selection of those that would receive Gamechangers funding. Steve Rodriguez applied and the Coleman Oval Skatepark was chosen.
Since that point, our role has been to manage and coordinate all aspects of the project including hiring a local AFH representative (Design Fellow, Preeti Sodhi) to work on site with the various involved parties, to coordinate the design of skatepark (Steve Rodriguez lead) & ancillary areas, including new dog runs, coordination of community design and municipal approvals process; managing bid & construction contract awards; management & disbursal of design & construction funds; coordination of the construction process, and much more. Visit gamechangers.architectureforhumanity.org to get the complete break down.
What was your biggest challenge in the process of creating the skate park?
Working in the public realm is always a challenge, with many systems, processes in place and stakeholders that have a voice and should be represented. With that said, it’s as much an opportunity for architects / planners to help facilitate a community led design process that shapes the future of public space that is both of and for the people.
Have you opened parks anywhere else?
The majority of our work includes spaces that are open to the community — providing access to health, education, recreation, etc. Most of the Gamechangers projects are great examples of multi-dimensional projects/ programs that are community driven and open. Gamechangers Parks specific, see: Rio Floods, Unas Canchas Muchas Canchas, San Pedro Apostal, Skateistan, Games in Lost Heavens, Vida Corrida. We also aided in the opening of the world’s first co-educational skateboarding school in Kabul, Afghanistan (watch Skateistan: To Live And Skate Kabul on Vimeo.
What advice can you give to anyone looking to have such a park in their area?
Any dream must have a plan to realize. Listening, communication and cooperation are key to any effective relationship. Be patient but also persistent. Communities are the engine, though it’s important to have a leader/ leaders who can guide the ship towards common goals. Follow through.