Joe Ciaglia of California Skateparks Talks Street League Course Designs
Since 2010, California Skateparks has been working with Street League to design courses in every city for the tour. These one-of-a-kind plazas have brought obstacle design and competitive street skateboarding to the next level. Founder and President, Joe Ciaglia is personally involved with all aspects of the process from designing the courses to overseeing the construction to pouring the cement and demolition. California Skateparks has built hundreds of public skateparks around the globe, from Canada to China as well as designing and building many private facilities for some of the top pro skateboarders in the world. Joe and Rob Dyrdek’s relationship began years before Street League Skateboarding became a reality; they both worked together on Rob’s Fantasy Factory, the Rob Dyrdek Foundation Safe Spot Skate Spots, the World’s Largest Skateboard, and much more. With a similar drive and enthusiasm for value in each project, Joe and Rob are the perfect partners in designing and building the best courses at each stop of the amazing series.
The first Street League Skateboarding course was built in an airplane hangar located in Van Nuys, California. This test facility was where the new Street League contest and course formats were tested and refined before the 2010 series began in arenas. Each Street League course has a one week window in which it is built, skated, and torn out which needless to say in no easy feat. Making sure the obstacles do not go to waste, Street League’s Course Donation Program was created in coordination with the Rob Dyrdek Foundation to donate obstacles from each Street League to the cities where the events are held to create new public skateparks for the community.
SLS: Did anything in particular inspire the SLS skate parks?
Joe C: I close my eyes and imagine if I had no budget and no limitations, what would I design? A colorful plaza with artistic skateable features, incorporating landscaping into a sick ass plaza that would challenge the top 24 pros in the world.
SLS: So Joe C, how does the skatepark design process begin?
Joe C: Initially the design process starts by bringing my team of designers together. We evaluate the prior event and see what worked well and what we can improve on. I’m fortunate to be able to be around the pros when their skating the courses and hear their input which can sometimes be very helpful when designing the next course.
SLS: Do you have a favorite Street League course?
Joe C: I like all of the courses so it’s hard to say, but if I had to choose I would say Glendale Arizona 2010 because it was my first course.
Glendale AZ 2010
SLS: Are some courses easier to build than others?
JOE C: No they are all the same. Obviously hurricanes don’t help us, but I have a passionate crew that travels and works on all the Street League events and they always do whatever it takes to get the job done. They look forward to watching the events and admiring their work.
SLS: Are the parks that you leave behind the exact same as the official SLS courses?
JOE C: No. Most of the skateparks are designed into existing park so we have to evaluate the existing site conditions and come up with a new design that also incorporates the official SLS features. A perfect example is the park we designed and built in Arizona, Cesar Chavez Skatespot.
SLS: I see. Is it any different designing an outdoor skatepark versus building a Street League course?
JOE C: The difference is that with the Street League courses, you’re starting with a limited space with one flat level elevation. You don’t have the ability to go down in the ground because you are infact indoors and building from the floor, up. And you have to be able to build it in 3 DAYS. The short time window in which we have to build a world class concrete plaza is probably the greatest difference. And of course, it’s the only time that we then take out the sledge hammer only to destroy the skate park – all within the same week. Traditionally after the event we grab the sledge hammer and see who gets to swing for the first crack. Some of the skaters like to get involved and grab pieces of the park in particular Chris Cole and his son.
SLS: It seems like you and Rob Dyrdek work very closely on designing the Street League skateparks. Can you tell us a little bit about your partnership and the working relationship?
JOE C: Rob’s energy and understanding of skateboarding help take the design to the next level. He is an integral part of the design process for every one of the Street League courses. Our design process includes the California Skateparks design team, Rob and myself. Once we get on a roll we all feed off each other with positive energy.
SLS: How precise and scientific is it the process – it seems like a creative process but how much of it is mathematical?
JOE C: Everything is very precise. Every detail is checked and double checked for the height of where you get on the rails and ledges to the height of where you get off. We measure the run up to stair sets, and spacing between features down to the inches. The degree of every angle is needed to be exact, from the way the patterns layout in relation to the features, to the landscaping and the overall look of the finished product.
SLS: Are there any rituals you have at in building the Street League courses?
JOE C: The most memorable moment is when Rob and I take a moment to admire our work. This normally occurs the morning before the event. We sit in the same spot in each arena and are amazed at what we created.
SLS: That’s really cool I must say. Any last words you’d like to leave with our readers?
JOE C: I am blessed to have the opportunity to be involved in this amazing event. Having the chance to be creative and design and build features for the top pros in the world to ride is awesome. I love seeing the kids’ faces when the pros are throwing down their best.
Article from Street League Newsletter