The Changing Landscape Of Skatepark Design
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The Changing Landscape Of Skatepark Design

Mar 06, 2020
Video Length:  1:15:06
Presented By:  Kanten Russell

Skateparks have exploded in popularity in recent years, with municipalities worldwide recognizing the myriad positive impacts offered by these embodiments of outdoor fun – and thus devoting funding and space to their construction. Kanten Russell, a former professional skateboarder and now a lead designer for New Line Skateparks, will discuss how skatepark design has evolved from a relatively underground endeavor into a well-accepted source of fulfillment, fitness, and overall benefit to the community. The presentation will cover everything from design approaches and funding/advocacy to site selection and accessibility. Jump on for a wild and informative ride down the half pipe!

Webinar Contents:

Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)

  • Intro
  • Advocacy and Funding
  • Community Outreach
  • Inspiration
  • Integration
  • Sustainability
  • Adaptability
  • Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
  • Programming and Operations

0:00 – 5:30: Intro

New Line’s approach to skatepark design (4:03):

  • Planning
  • Design
  • Integrity
  • Empowerment

5:31 – 6:40: Advocacy and Funding

How it works:

  • Develop a funding strategy
  • Application preparation
  • Secure funding
  • Project management and oversight

6:41 – 8:49: Community Outreach


Examples: Ypsilanti Community Skatepark, Panama City Skatepark (7:25)

8:50 – 10:55: Inspiration

10:56 – 16:20: Integration

Example: LaGrange Skatepark, LaGrange, GA (13:53)

16:21 – 21:10: Sustainability

Stormwater concepts (17:18)

  • Energy-efficient landscaping
  • Erosion control
  • Grading, drainage, and stormwater
  • Historical preservation and tree protection measures
  • Planting, irrigation, and stormwater management
  • Water conservation and use of native plants
  • Biofiltration gaps


Example: Ed Benedict Skate Park, Portland, OR (17:55)


Question: Do you bring your skateboard to sites you design to help determine how they will ride? (18:40)

Answer: Most definitely! It’s field research.

21:11 – 26:32: Adaptability

Question: What is the cost per square foot for skateparks like those you are showing? (22:55)

Answer: It depends on the size, design, and location of the park. For something basic, it might cost $50 to $55 per square foot. It can go up to $60 to $65 per square foot if you want more design elements and landscaping. In a higher-cost area, wage rates can kick it up to $70 or $75 (or more) per square foot.


Question: Do you have a lot of sites where you need to start from scratch? Or is it more common to create a park on an existing area that already includes concrete? (25:09)

Answer: It depends on the site. Some of the spaces aren’t the most desirable or usable, but the main focus is making sure they’re safe and accessible.

26:33 – 43:53: Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)

Question: Are most spaces offered for skateparks those that are deemed undesirable or unusable? (28:32)

Answer: Not really. They just take any space they can and make it as safe, accessible, and usable as possible. They definitely don’t advocate for “out of sight, out of mind” locations. If anything, the creativity being applied for skatepark locations and design and setting a trend for other public projects – parks being created below freeway overpasses, for example.


Question: In Norway, skateparks are being built primarily at schoolyards and directly in small-town centers. In North America, they’re often being built under bridges and by renovated river areas. Do you think Canada and the U.S. are still not willing to offer prime land for skateparks? If so, what will encourage that change? (33:07)

Answer: Again, not every city is trying to put skateparks in undesirable locations. However, the key to changing this mind-set is the need to educate the public on the positive impacts of skateparks. Because the mind-set has changed so much over the past couple of decades, we’re seeing more and more skateparks in city corridors and other central locations.


Question: How many projects are being developed in conjunction with municipalities for storm management, and are these projects becoming more common? (42:24)

Answer: Storm management and stormwater infrastructure is part of virtually every skatepark project.

43:54 – end: Programming and Operations

Question: Have you considered the design thinking approach for community outreach – empathizing with skateboarders and other users to make sure they get what they need? (49:00)

Answer: Yes. Much of what goes into and comes out of these projects centers on empathy, not only for skateboarders but for people with disabilities, parents of skateboarders, and the community in general.


Question: What are the main challenges you face when designing skateparks worldwide? (51:11)

Answer: The top challenges are education and public and cultural perception, as well as funding and available materials. In some locations, the local municipality is actually taking the lead in creating skateparks.


Question: Will the Olympic skateboarding competitions be based on style or just skill? (54:15)

Answer: Most likely both. It’s extremely subjective. Plus skateboarding isn’t as standardized as many other Olympic sports, such as gymnastics.


Question: What courses of study or careers would you suggest for future skatepark designers? (56:54)

Answer: Kanten’s team includes people with landscape architecture, architecture, and civil design degrees. Structural engineering is another possible discipline. There’s no wrong career path – it depends on your personality and interests. What do you gravitate toward? Are you more technically or artistically oriented? Are you interested in structural elements, or more big-picture aspects?


Question: How have you implemented Land F/X into skatepark design? (1:03:20)

Answer: Many of the details they use in plans were created using Land F/X. Other helpful features include quantity takeoffs and the ability to link callouts with details.


Question: What is your favorite project you’ve worked on? (1:04:00)

Answer: The Carlsbad and Encinitas skateparks are favorites, but the St. Cloud, MN, park was one of his first designs and possibly favorite. As of webinar time, the park has been moved, and New Line is working on the design of the new site.


Recommendations for firms that don’t specialize in skatepark design to advocate for them in future projects (1:05:15)


Discussion of funding opportunities for skateparks, including grants (1:07:05)


Discussion of struggles with municipal codes (1:08:12)


Example of a park he helped design in Mexico (1:10:00)


Kanten’s contact info:

  • Email:
  • Phone: +1 866-463-9546
  • Website:
Kanten Russell

Presented by Kanten Russell

Lead Designer for New Line Skateparks

About Kanten Russell

After semi-retiring from professional skateboarding, Kanten transitioned into skatepark design professionally as a lead designer for New Line Skateparks. For the past 13 years, he has led the design process of more than 250 skateparks, including one of the first green skateparks and a skate plaza that converted a brownfield into an active space to help combat childhood obesity.

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