A safe place to skate

Aman Ali

City enlists students to design park

(Left to right) Junior architecture majors David Maniet, Chris Bonadio and George Simon show off their designs for a new skate park that will be built in Kent. The designs were part of an assignment for Charles Fredrick’s studio design class, which was ch

Credit: Jason Hall

Architecture instructor Charles Frederick weighed in on skate parks in surrounding cities like Stow, Streetsboro and Hudson.

“Talk to any 12-year-old skater about those parks,” Frederick said. “They’ll tell you the parks suck.”

The city of Kent is hoping Frederick and his third-year studio design class won’t let that happen here. The Parks and Recreation Department has chosen the class to design a skate park the city plans on building on Admore Drive, right off of state Route 59.

“We’re all excited about this,” said junior architecture major Audra Jervey. “None of us are skaters, so this is going to be a challenge.”

Jervey and the 14 other students in Frederick’s class wanted to design a skate park that was unlike the nearby ones. Frederick said most of the skate parks in other cities are simply open land parcels cluttered with ramps ordered from a skateboarding catalogue.


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“These parks have no imagination,” he said. “Skaters are looking for something that has a street element to it.”

Figuring out what that street element is took extensive research. Frederick got his students to immerse themselves in skateboarding culture by watching videos, visiting skate parks and talking to skaters.

The result is a park that looks more like a city – filled with sidewalk steps, rails and other items familiar to city landscapes.

“This park doesn’t need huge bells and whistles,” said Laura Torchia, owner of Evolution Skate Shop in Kent. “Kids just need a spot where they’re not going to be hassled skateboarding.”

Frederick has a background in landscape architecture and was able to secure the skate park project through a working relationship he already had with John Idone, Kent’s Parks and Recreation


“This is going to give the students the chance to get a lot of exposure to the real world,” Frederick said. “They’re learning a lot about how the design business works.”

On Oct. 9, the class presented their preliminary designs to city officials and a handful of skaters. Frederick said the designs were well received.

“It might have been awkward for the students to get critiqued by a bunch of kids,” Frederick said. “But it was a really positive experience. I have continued to be impressed with what the students are doing.”

Torchia said the student plans were a step forward in the right direction.

“I think it’s great the university is getting involved,” Torchia said. “The city could have had some company fly in from California or something to design this project, and we’d never see them again. The fact that so many local people are working on this project reflects the kind of community that Kent has.”

Frederick said the students finished designs last Friday and the city expects the skate park to be completed by spring.

Contact public affairs reporter Aman Ali at [email protected].