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  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

Manhattan Beach, California finally has its own skatepark!

“In April 2016 the City Council voted unanimously to pursue the Safe Neighborhood Parks grant, a $300,000 county grant to build a skate park in the Manhattan Beach. Stantec Action Sports Group led a series of workshops hosted by Kanten Russell and gathered feedback from skaters and residents.

The skate park was designed by Colby Carter and Kanten Russell of Stantec. The Manhattan Beach Skatepark is a site specific design integrated into the space nicely and accommodates all types of skaters at all levels of ability. After 15+ years of waiting to get a skatepark, Manhattan Beach finally has one to call its own.”

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.


If you are at the Wisconsin Parks and Recreation Association Annual Conference, November 1-4, Wisconsin Dells, WI, come visit us at booth #802

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.

30 years in the making

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<p><b>Andy</b>: There’s going to be a 40 for 40, now it’s going to be a 43 for 43</p> <p><b>Kanten</b>: Andy started skating in 86 when he was 13, I started… I feel like this is a Jeremy Klein / ron chapman thing… he’s 18, I’m 18, um, ya, he was 13 I was 13, I started same year same age. We both turned pro in 1993, we both rode for the same board company and had an ad at the same time for our first time ever having an ad published. I think it’s just weird now how full circle that many years later we’re working together creating skate parks. It’s just kinda crazy. And the owner of that company who put the ad out is actually right down the way here at the skate park, and his son is ripping the park. It’s like full circle.</p> <p><b>Off-camera</b>: You mean that guy right there?</p> <p><b>Kanten</b>: Ya, he was our team manager.</p> <p><b>Andy</b>: That was that slow J Lee jump.</p>

The 360: Kanten Russell Hits Skateboarding from Every Angle

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<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

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<p>no speaking during this video</p>

Wheel-friendly in San Diego

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<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

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<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>

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