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Skate Plaza - » Rob Dyrdek's contribution to skateboarding and the city of Kettering, OH

"Not a skatepark, but a park to skate in"

I've hear a lot of skaters scoff at the idea of a skate plaza. They often argue that any city park is a skate plaza. Apparently, these skaters have never encountered joggers, dog walkers, kids playing or police when they skate their local city's parks. Interesting. I'd think most people would prefer a place designed for skaters to be used exclusively by skaters. Maybe they're afraid of losing their cult-status.

What if you went to your local skatepark and found people sitting on all the benches drinking coffee and reading the local paper? What if the street section was cluttered with kids playing with toys? Obviously, none of these things ever happen because such people don't venture into skateparks, they go to public city parks. Hey, wait a minute! Skaters go to these city parks too. Aha! Well, what if the city replicated a public park, built obstacles that were imminently skatable and invited all the four-wheeled rebels to ride it?

Maybe now you're getting the point of building skate plazas...

arial view of the skate plaza in OH

The fact is that 90% of the 13 million skateboarders are street skaters - skaters who don't really have use for a half pipe or other ramps that you typically find in skateparks. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with towns building skateparks full of ramps, but does that really meet the need of the average skater? Take a look at the types of obstacles you like to skate. What if you could custom design ledges the way you like them? That's what Rob Dyrdek did for the Kettering, Ohio skate plaza.

Dyrdek began working with city staff and Site Design Group Inc. to design the skate plaza. Dyrdek photographed and measured the best skate spots from around the world before designing his concept of a skate plaza. With his research, Dyrdek created a handrail inspired by a popular spot on the University of California Irvine campus; benches modeled after those at the Department of Water and Power building in Los Angeles; ledges duplicated from one in Barcelona, Spain; and wide concrete slabs inspired by those at Pier 7 in San Francisco, Calif. Similar to the public art sculptures in Love Plaza, a skateboarding hotspot in Philadelphia, PA, a sculpture at the heart of Kettering's skate plaza will help to develop an identity for the facility.

Rob's undertaking wasn't just as a concerned skater. He had to learn drafting skills from architects so he could properly replicate the obstacles that he wanted to re-create. This way he could perfect the runs throughout the plaza. To be successful, it had to contain obstacles that were skater-designed.

After it's grand opening, it was realized the the skate plaza was the only public facility in the town that is always in use from dawn to dusk. Neither the tennis courts, basketball courts or softball fields get the amount of use the skate plaza does. Never underestimate the tenacity of a skate-rat, eh?

"I make six figures a year and I have to run from the cops when I'm trying to do my job," Dyrdek says.

Check out our review of Groundbreaking, the skate plaza documentary on DVD.

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