Thursday, July 26, 2007

Construction of San Jose's skate park

Skate park workers blow concrete into the mold that will become a launch ramp

Yesterday I met Zach Wormhoudt at the future site of the 40,000 square foot San Jose skate park. He gave me a guided tour of what all they are working on. They are about 70 percent done blowing in the concrete. That was fun to watch the workers do. That concrete comes out with such force that it could blow a hole in you. I took a few pictures and I'll put them up once I get back to Memphis- I forgot my USB adaptor.

Lasting impressions:


The site where the park is very much like Mud island in terms of being somewhat removed from everything else. In order to get to the park you will have to pay $6.00 for parking at an admission/security gate and then drive in and either go to Raging waters water park or go to the skate park. The two facilities are about 1/2 a mile away from each other with a lake separating the two locations. I asked Zach what he thoought about the location being somewhat remote and he thought that this was something that was somewhat critical to the success of the park. Why? The main reason is safety. The bowls and other terrain that I saw are pretty extreme. His point was you don't want a people "high" on whatever coming in and fooling around in the skatepark- someone could die in some areas of the park. He recommended that the city have it supervised.


Watching the construction was like seeing art being made from concrete. They just started making the full pipe which consisted of these giant support steel arches that would be used for pouring concrete into. The San Jose City inspector is out there everyday to make sure all construction is done exactly as specified by buidling code and the blue print. Zach is very involved in the entire process.


Zach put a lot of thought into this design as he has for other parks. The skate lines in the park are very fluid and minimize the chance of collision between skaters.

The Mud island Skate park

I still think that the Mud island park could be a great park to serve as training grounds for skaters. We could really make our park stand out by having terrain that gradually increases in difficulty. This concept will come out when we present some preliminary designs for the skatepark. So many parks have cool extreme terrain but most of this is used by a small number of skaters. Zach informed me that a lot of skaters want this in their parks and then stuff just sits there unused because it's too extreme. Extreme terrain should definitely be in a park but we need more terrain that allows skaters to systematically work their abilities towards "safetly" tackling the harder parts of the park. It's just like the balance beam in gymnastics, the beam starts on the floor and stays there for a long time until the gymnast is so confident that raising it 4 feet makes no difference. This approach could help to minimize injury.

Well that's enough day dreaming- we have to get the funding for the feasability study first...


fearlessvk said...

speaking as a former gymnast (for 13 years!!) the gymnast is never "so confident" that raising the beam 4 feet off the ground makes no's just that her coach screams at her long enough and threatens her with enough extra conditioning that she has no choice ;P

Aaron said...

Thanks for the correction on "no difference". Perhaps starting on the ground makes performing at 4 feet remotely doable rather then downright terrifying. The same is true in skating. You just do your best to marginalize the fear by providing incremental steps when possible. At some point you go from incremental to making the final commitment to a dangerous manuever that somehow in your mind you are convinced you can pull off from having internalized the motion through hours of practice. In the end it's still a fine line between grace and disaster. Herein lies the thrill right ? ( or coaches screaming at you) or both? :)

fearlessvk said...

oh you're absolutely right of course. it's the same psychological principle and it makes a lot of sense. your post just brought back a lot of not-entirely-pleasant balance beam memories. as a gymnast, the beam was always my nemesis - i never found it thrilling, only terrifying (well, at least one move in particular, the flight series - nothing else scared me that much, but that was enough to make me hate the event). got my thrills on vault and floor instead (didn't like the bars so much either, though there's a long story behind that which i won't bore you with) so even though your basic point is absolutely 100% right, i just had to jump in there and remind your readers that behind the placid exterior of the gymnast on the high beam, there is often of cauldron of terror!!