Skip to main content
skip to content Français Search
Start of main content
  My goal is to create skate parks that integrate with their surrounding areas. I think that’s what ultimately changes the perception of skateboarding—connecting a unique lifestyle to the community at large.

Kanten Russell

Designer/Project Manager

San Diego, California

A long-time fixture in the professional skateboarding world, Kanten is a lead designer for our Action Sports Group. Growing up in Southern California—the birthplace of skateboarding—Kanten quickly became a leading figure in the region’s skateboarding scene and was a professional skateboarder for 13 years, traveling all over the world endorsing his pro model shoes and signature skateboards as well as appearing in several skateboarding videos and on magazine covers.

After retiring from skateboarding, Kanten studied civil engineering and landscape architecture as he transitioned into park design. He worked in both the public and private sectors before joining Mike McIntyre at Action Sport Design to plan, design, and manage the construction of skate parks and skate plazas.

Kanten has led the design process of over 100 skate parks across the country including the world’s first green skate park in St. Cloud, Minnesota; a skate plaza in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, which converted a brownfield into an active space to help combat childhood obesity; and the new Alga Norte Community Skate Park in Carlsbad, California.

When he isn’t designing or skateboarding, you can find Kanten taking photos or spending time outdoors with his wife and three daughters in San Diego, California.


Meet us at the 2017 Minnesota Recreation & Park Association Conference on Thrusday, October 12 Booth #20. Catch our lecture on Building Unique Parks with Jeff Reiter from Custom Builders. Kanten Russell will be discussing the Anatomy of Action. Lecture begins at 8:30 AM.

Designing and maintaining an effective action sports facility means learning new tactics. Last year I presented on this topic with “Action Sports Parks: From Design to Day to Day Operations” at the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) conference.

Through analyzing existing facilities, I helped conference goers understand the design, liability, maintenance, and community impacts involved in creating a skate park in my presentation “Action Sports: Staying Strong,” also at the NRPA 2015 conference.

Got a brownfield site and need a community solution? Have you thought about a skate park? Mike McIntyre and I wrote a primer article on the topic for Parks & Recreation, “Skate parks: An Adaptive Reuse Solution.

Need an overview of skate park design and process? Check out the Public Skate Park Development Guide.

Jon Gordon’s book, The No Complaining Rule is a resource I like to use to promote a positive outlook. 

Before, skateboarders did their best with what their neighborhoods had—today, I’m presenting to communities who are excited to design dedicated skate parks.

Designing with community in mind is where we have to go with skate parks. Now that cities and communities are looking to skate parks for destinations, it’s up to us as designers to make the places where skaters want to skate.

Kailee Bradstreet at Transworld Business wrote a feature about our work at the Carlsbad skate park in California. Designing a project in my own backyard that could cater to any skill level? Priceless.

I recently got together with about a dozen skateboarders in Cloquet, Minnesota, along with parents, city officials, and a city councilor to go through what they wanted in their park design.

I’m working on a fundraiser to support the Olivia Hudson Foundation, created for a young girl, my baby cousin, who passed away from Pediatric Brain Cancer. The foundation honors Olivia’s life by funding research and supporting families in financial need.

Giving Manhattan Beach, CA kids a safe place to ride

Transcript of the video follows
skip transcript
<p>Kanten Russell:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; After trying to get this park done for over 15 years, we found out that they weren't ready for a huge regional park, and what they did want was a nice neighborhood park like this, around 8,000 square feet. For such a small skate park, it really does have a little bit of everything for everybody, ledges, stairs, railings, transitions, and hips.</p> <p>Idris Al-Oboudi:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; So many generations of skateboarders here in the city of Manhattan Beach missed out on having a safe, green, and wonderful place to go and skateboard and enjoy themselves.</p> <p>Derek Chapin:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I grew up skating in this area, making friends skating and stuff. So to see this park come around is really good. It's like, cool that we have spaces like this to bring people together.</p> <p>Mason Silva:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; In Manhattan Beach, there was no park for the whole time I grew up. And so now, to see kids coming back and the skate scene coming back is really sick, because I feel like it died for a while. And kids ... now that they have this, I feel like they'll actually pick up a board, and so instead of just surfing, they're going to skate, too. And it's going to be really cool.</p> <p>CJ:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; It's good to have this park, because we get to stay positive. And then, we're not out in the streets wrecking houses and random ledges and stuff. We get to actually come to a skate park where we can just be ourselves, you know?</p> <p>Fred Manna:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; There was a lot of misconceptions about what a skate park would be. What I recognized early on was that we were providing all types of athletic activities for our young people, whether it's baseball diamonds, basketball courts, tennis courts, soccer fields ... there's no place for a kid who's of an x-game type background or desire to practice his sport except everywhere we don't want them, on public property, school property. And what do we do? We chase them away, and the first thing they ask is, &quot;Well, where are we supposed to go?&quot; Well, now we have an answer.</p> <p>Speaker 7:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Good afternoon.</p> <p>Speaker 8:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Robert.</p> <p>Speaker 7:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Welcome to the Manhattan Beach Skate Spot. All right. There's a little technical jargon. All right.</p> <p>Speaker 9:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Put it down a little bit.</p> <p>Speaker 7:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; One ... here we go. One, two, three.</p> <p>Speaker 10:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Yay.</p> <p>Speaker 11:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And look it at it go.</p>

Houston skaters arrive at The Station

Transcript of the video follows
skip transcript
<p>Cameron:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; This skate park is named after The Station, a measly little gas station off of Chimney Rock in West Belfort.</p> <p>Justin:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; That's where we all learned our basic tricks and, more importantly, where we met each other. But then the gas station was torn down, so at 15 years old, me and my friends put our heads together, put our ideas together, and decided to build a skate park.</p> <p>Cameron:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; We started going to meetings, we started calling and e-mailing so many people asking for money.</p> <p>Kanten:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And our design team met with all the locals in the community here to talk about whether they actually wanted in the skate park, and after shredding with them and getting some ideas and putting it on paper, we came up with the layout we have.</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; The goal was to put something in here that was for everybody, whether it was transition in the bowl, quarter pipes, banks, hips, rails, it was really what we were trying to do with the design.</p> <p>Justin:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And now I'm able to stand here, starting at 15 years old as a kid, just skating at [Manning Gas Station 00:01:03] with my friends. And now, 19 years old, not a kid anymore, and I'm standing here at a skate park that we built together.</p> <p>Cameron:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; My favorite thing about skateboarding is getting on my board and skating anywhere and anytime. Just pushing down the street, just cruising. I just love that feeling of wind in my hair, having fun.</p> <p>Andrew:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Skateboarding, for me, has a very individualistic approach. For instance, when I was a kid, I was never good in soccer, basketball ... That was mainly because I had to rely on other people.</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Skateboarding's all about individual achievement, and that really pushes me to do the best that I can do and that I want to do.</p> <p>Justin:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Seeing your friends, seeing yourself, seeing everybody around you progress, that is the coolest part about skateboarding.</p> <p>Max:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; When you're skateboarding, you can be trying a trick for five minutes or five hours, and when you finally land that trick, it's one of the best feelings in the world.</p> <p>Juan:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I skate to fall, really. It's like, just to do that and to get back up and do it again.</p> <p>Brendon:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; We put in a lot of hard work and time from the community and we finally have our park.</p> <p>Juan:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; It's amazing, really. I never thought it would come true. It's like a dream of every skater.</p> <p>Andrew:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Park is pretty sick because it's right down the street from my house.</p> <p>Dan:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And it turned out super good. The transitions, the angles, everything flows. I'm really happy with it.</p> <p>Kanten:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; It was just really an idea that came to life from them. It's really a community project and we were just there to help them.</p> <p>Sylvester:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; If you dream of something and you want something, you can grab it and you can make it happen.</p> <p>Annise:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; This park is designed for this neighborhood and this community, and it is exactly what this neighborhood and this community asked for. Very, very important.</p> <p>Cameron:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; And I wish that this would inspire anybody else to continue what we just did and spread the love of skateboarding.</p> <p>Justin:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; This skate park being a concrete skate park is amazing because it's here permanently. It's not going anywhere, so it's gonna be here for generations. I'm gonna be able to skate in it, my kids are gonna be able to skate it, and my grandkids will even get to skate it.</p> <p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I think that this community has a lot of positivity flowing through it just through this skate park.</p>

The 360: Kanten Russell Hits Skateboarding from Every Angle

Transcript of the video follows
skip transcript
<p>The city respects us for our ability to relate to them.&nbsp; The users respect our ability to understand what they really want. And it doesn’t hurt that we still ride.</p> <p>I was a professional skateboarder for 13 years, and then transitioned into designing skate parks. To use all the knowledge and … and things I experienced through skateboarding, and how that world works kind of gives me a good sense of where skateboarding is now and understand kind of what people are really looking for when the hire us as a consultant.</p> <p>We’re hired to be the conduit from the city to, to the end user. They don’t understand the terminology. They don’t understand some of the way that things are laying out, or why would we do this as opposed to this.</p> <p>In skateboarding, I was known for doing the craziest jumps and you know, crazy daredevil kind of stuff, and I think that sort of drive and motivation and passion, they could see that through my skateboarding. Fast-forward to my design career, I feel like it’s a little bit the same thing. You know, the passion, drive, continually, pushing what we’re doing into areas we’ve never done before, being innovative and the formula we have works every time. So I think its building trust with a client, and having them understand that we are, you know, the best at what we do.</p> <p>Having that, you know, authentic background, the credibility to do what we do, in the sport and outside the sport, does help, and is a necessity, I think, at some level.<b></b></p>

Field test

Transcript of the video follows
skip transcript
<p>no speaking during this video</p>

Wheel-friendly in San Diego

Transcript of the video follows
skip transcript
<p>We’re here at the wheel friendly Encinitas skate plaza. This is 12 years in the making. The original concept for this plaza you’re seeing here is that the skatepark was really only about 13,000sf and the rest is just a plaza you can legally skateboard in. the skateboarding community really wanted to embrace that concept as well because no one has really done an actual skate plaza in San Diego. With this one you had ADA accessibility, it’s all inclusive, it’s barrier free, no fencing, really authentic, really urban with all the materials, the colours, everything looks like it should be here, is integrated into the rest of the park. And really the whole idea was to take all of some of the favorite spots that we’ve had growing up skateboarding in the streets of san diego and put it into a plaza that people can come to, hang out at all day, and not really worry about being in a quote unquote skate park.</p> <p>Super stoked the place has finally opened. Kanten was nice enough to let us have a little bit of input on some of the obstacles. Our childhood skatepark, Webb Park, got torn down and he was cool enough to add a couple little things that resemble Webb, so.. . and all in all the park’s amazing.</p> <p>Gotta say this is one of the best parks I’ve ever seen. Proper street plaza.</p> <p>The place is super fun, super smooth, ya man, get you some.</p> <p>I’ve grown up in San Diego and skated here for over 25 years and we’ve never had really high caliber parks until recently, and Kanten’s a huge reason we have those, and it’s a big gift to the san diego skate community, big gift to every skater that lives here, and also who travels here. I’m looking forward to having my son come to some sessions, and now he’ll have a world class place to skate and enjoy when he grows up.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

Elevating Boston's skateboarding scene

Transcript of the video follows
skip transcript
<p>I would say this skatepark is probably one of the most significant projects that I can think of on the East Coast. Boston has always had a great skate scene, but they’ve never had a good size regional skate park. And being here, in this historical setting really sets the tone to set it apart from anything else on the East Coast. It is big, it’s spread out, and it has a little bit of everything for all users, all ages, all skill levels.</p> <p>One of the key things to bring all of this together was all of the community input that we had. Working with the community, having the input meetings to find out what everyone really wanted in the skatepark, helped to dial in everything you see in there today.</p> <p>Voice of Mike McIntyre</p> <p>Skatepark Designer</p> <p>Stantec</p> <p>Incorporating areas of homage to the Boston skate community and elements of attraction to the first time user, was paramount to the success. The integration of sight lines to and from the park, overall approach to the entrance with the creation of a barrier free park environment was challenging, but the net result was all of the elements the community wanted incorporated, from the pro bowl, hospital banks, ledges- were integrated for an amazing result. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Voice of Jarod Kershek</p> <p>Landscape Architect</p> <p>Stantec</p> <p>What a lot of people may not realize is that the skatepark started out as a brownfield site and through that, there was a lot of remediation that needed to be done to make it safe for people to skate in. Soil testing, contaminated soils, storm water, planning around access to the columns was also a big issue.</p> <p>Voice of Bill Minadeo</p> <p>VP of Sales/Builder</p> <p>California Skateparks</p> <p>Well, I mean it’s been a mission for us but for the city it’s been, you know, ten times that mission. We learned yesterday that the like first inquiry about this park was in 1997; the first phone call that was like “let’s do a skatepark here,” so I think it’s going to be a great place, it’s gonna be a great thing for Boston without a doubt and I’m super happy to be a part of making all of this into a reality.</p> <p>Voice of Karl Haglund</p> <p>Senior Planner&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Department of Conservation and Recreation</p> <p>Having the curvature of the ramps overhead, having the views of the Zakim Bridge, and the North Bank Pedestrian Bridge; I think this is a great atmosphere to skate in, even though I’m not a skater.</p> <p>Voice of SJ Port</p> <p>Director of Development and Communications</p> <p>Charles River Conservancy</p> <p>This is the first home that the state park system has accepted for skateboarders into their portfolio of parks. Renata von Tscharner, our president and founder, is really the visionary behind this.</p> <p>Voice of Renata von Tscharner</p> <p>Founder and President</p> <p>Charles River Conservancy</p> <p>Today on this park, I know your legendary skill will shine</p> <p>Unnamed Speakers at Park Opening</p> <p>Everything here that’s happening today is a miracle. This is a sanctuary, and it’s not just for skateboarders, it’s for the entire community; it’s for the kids, it’s for their parents, it’s for all generations of kids.</p> <p>And this park will be open for the first time: one, two, three, cut!</p>

View A Project Near You

Find Stantec projects near you
End of main content To top