SOUTH LOOP — How do you keep skateboarders from shredding in public spaces like the Daley Center?
Give them their own Downtown plaza.
And how do you design a space compelling enough to pull them from their usual haunts? Round up a committee of skaters and make their dream park a reality.
Early renderings for the new skate park proposed on a 3-acre plot in Grant Park depict a Seussical combination of public plaza space and classic skate park features.
DNAinfo.com Chicago has obtained images of what Grant Park Conservancy President Bob O'Neill calls "very preliminary designs" of the skate park set to be built between Michigan Avenue, Roosevelt Road and Columbus Drive next year.
(Click on the photo above to see a slideshow of the renderings.)
The design was born of collaborations between nine skateboarders and landscape architecture firm Altamanu, which has been tapped to execute the project.
"I got a committee of them together and said, 'Tell me what you use now,' and they said, 'We illegally use these sculptures at the MCA,'" O'Neill said. "So I said, 'Let's find out who the artist is,' and we had the artist [Dan Peterman] create the sculptures as skating obstacles.
"We want to create the most innovative and workable skate park in the country, and we want to do it in the front yard of a major city," said O'Neill.
One of the Altamanu designers on the project is an avid skateboarder, too, O'Neill said, "So, I think we've got this covered."
Rails, banks and ledges where skateboarders are usually banned will be customized for their use. Instead of building a projection screen for movie nights, they'll hang one on the side of a quarter pipe.
"A lot of skateboarders illegally destroy downtown plazas with skating," O'Neill said. "We're creating these elements for what they use now, illegally, to do it legally. What they find so intriguing about some of the public plazas, [we're] bringing those elements into the skate park."
In addition to reflecting the skaters' identity, the development team also hopes to work in a nod to Chicago's history, especially the park's past life as a rail yard. The team hopes to salvage rails from the adjacent Illinois Central railroad tracks to create railings, fencing and other structural elements of the skate park.
"Not only are they virtually indestructible, it would also pay respect to that site in history. Chicago only really got going because of its railroads," he said.
The park is also meant to serve pedestrians, and includes landscaped, grassy "hills" as seating around a movable stage that can host music, dance and other cultural performances.
To make the park a reality, the Grant Park Conservancy is looking for private funding to supplement the $1 million in Near South TIF money already allotted to the project.
"We want to keep it dynamic, current, flexible so things can change, and always up to date, because it's a sport that's so creative," O'Neill said.
Construction wouldn't begin until early next year, and there will be more community meetings where residents can provide feedback on the preliminary designs.