Philadelphia City Planning Commission
Dave Schaaf (Project Manager)
Site Architect / Architect of Record
Nate Hommell (Project Manager)
Community & Design Consultant
Brian Nugent (Director)
Community Outreach Consultant
Qualified Women in Construction (QWIC)
Tracy Agha (Project Manager)
AB ARCH, LLC
Anthony Bracali (Project Manager)
Skatepark Design Consultant
Purkiss Rose R S I
Steve Rose (PIC) Ext 109
Terry Valles (PM) Ext 116
Damiano & Long Consulting Engineers
Phil Burtner (Principal)
The proposed site for the Schuylkill River Skatepark is a triangular shaped area along the east bank of the Schuylkill River. The site is approximately two acres in size and is divided almost equally into two plateaus separated by a wooded, sloping hillside. The site is directly accessible from the Benjamin Franklin Parkway and adjacent to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Our design for this project establishes new relationships from a series of existing conditions. Our concept is to create a "landscape for skateboarding" that accommodates many users of many activities and acknowledges skateboarding as a positive contributor.
We sought to work closely with the existing landscape, altering it minimally by nestling the gentle curve of the terrace elements into an existing hillside between the two plateaus. The plateaus are maintained with minimal re-grading. Specimen trees in good condition are preserved.
form & visual relations
The centerline of the Art Museum Fountains is extended to form the centerline for the public plaza and overlook. This axis and the existing curb edge along Martin Luther King drive establish lines which are repeated in the paving and site walls across the design, and organize other elements of the design. Views across the site are framed by the existing specimen trees.
The skating areas are woven like "fingers" between the existing trees. The skating features themselves are appendages to the architecture. They are imagined as extensions of the site walls and provide skateboarders with material and dimensional variety.
Pedestrian connections from the adjacent parkway are reinforced by the introduction of new pathways to create direct links. New places are created along the path that serve as collection points for pedestrians and others.
Two conceptual design schemes were developed for the project. Both schemes were presented to the public. As the design developed, elements of the two schemes seemed to naturally evolve to join with the other into a single approach.
The Spiral Scheme responded more directly to the shape of the land and developed an internal focus.
The Share Scheme explored the skating areas as "fingers" in the landscape, elongated to correspond with "gaps" between the trees.
This triangular lawn along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive is preserved as open space so it can continue to serve as a staging area for events on the Parkway.
public plaza & overlook
The Upper and Lower Green spaces are linked by a public plaza. The plaza serves as a gathering space ad transition between Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and the recreational trail. Gently sloping walkways and stairs extend in both directions to gather users. The plaza provides access into the lower green space (skating area) through a series of stepped seating terraces. The plaza is terminated at the west side by an overlook point covered with a pergola structure. This overlook allows for views up and down the recreational path from an elevated vantage point and provides seating areas within it. The overlook is aligned with the centerline of the fountains in front of the Museum of Art - an urban design gesture intended to link the skatepark to the surrounding context.
center skating platform
This is an elevated area that connects the seating terrace to the lower green space. It provides a series of sloped and curved banks as well as stairs and ledges that are attractive to skateboarders. This area can also double as a "stage" for performances because of its relationship to the adjacent seating terraces.
The main skating areas are concentrated in the lower plateau, set approximately eight to ten feet below the elevation of the adjacent street. The skating areas are threaded like "fingers" between the existing trees. This area is organized by a series of low planter walls, ledges, benches, and wedge shaped concrete site walls which create a diverse skating terrain. The "gaps" between the trees also frame views across the site to the Museum of Art from the south. At the southernmost area of the site, a seating area for bicyclists, runners, and other trail users is created. This area acts as a "buffer" zone between the skating areas and the trail with cobblestone pavers to slow traffic in both directions. A pathway from this point also provides a direct connection to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive via a stairway and ramp.