The City of Pensacola, Upward Intuition and the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition are excited to announce a collaborative project to bring new skate spots to Hollice T. Williams Park, providing safe areas for the skate community while also creating interactive locations that will serve as building blocks for STEAM learning.
Phase one of the project will add several skate spots to the Hollis T. Williams Park, which will help address the immediate needs of the skate community until the larger Blake Doyle Skate Park can be completed. The anticipated completion date for the skate spots is fall 2019.
These smaller skate spots are designed to replicate common locations such as handrails or concrete ledges that are often popular among skaters, but may not be legal or safe areas to skate outside of a park. A key characteristic of skate spots is their small size – typically consisting of a single, simple, above-ground concrete structure requiring about 1,500 square feet of space, including flat space to approach and roll away from the element. Read more about skate spots here.
The spots will be added to the northern end of Hollice T. Williams Park, allowing for easy connectivity to the skate park in the south end once it’s completed.
Although designated skate spots are becoming increasingly popular nationwide, Pensacola’s skate spots will be unique in that they will be constructed largely of recycled building materials donated to the City. With the help of IHMC, the spots will also be utilized as "interactive learning labs" for STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics content, serving as building blocks for interactivity and exploration of science topics.
"In a sense, skateboarding is innovation,” said David Fries, an interdisciplinary research scientist at IHMC. “We have an opportunity to teach innovation and offer a fresh way for kids to learn."
Fries’ research interests span a wide range of disciplines and fields exploring the underlying thread of technology as an amplifier for exploration and discovery of the natural world and the human condition.
"This is going to be an incredible addition to the regional skate park that we've been working on for the last few years,” said Jon Shell of Upward Intuition. “The Hollice Williams Park is a linear park located underneath Interstate 110. We're going to have a world class skate park at the south end of the park – to have a few skate spots throughout the linear park leading into the skate park and downtown Pensacola will be amazing. Essentially it could become a ‘skate trail.’ I haven't seen that anywhere else. To also have the opportunity to get kids excited about innovation and art is a home run."
Mayor Grover Robinson also expressed his support and excitement for the project.
“I know we have a large community here in Pensacola that’s passionate about skateboarding, and I’m looking forward to being able to provide them a safe place to skate at one of our City parks,” Robinson said. “Although we’re making good progress on the Blake Doyle Skate Park, this is something that can more immediately meet the needs of the community while also providing educational opportunities through IHMC, so it’s a win-win for all of us.”
Tony Hawk Foundation Programs Director Peter Whitely emphasized the creativity surrounding the skate spot project in Pensacola, also pointing out the importance of a skate park’s connection to the community as a whole.
"A skate park's relationship to local attractions and residential areas is a critical consideration,” Whitely said. “Skate spots are a strategic way to provide service to specific areas and build a comprehensive level of service across the entire community. Kids only benefit from the skate spaces they can reach. Enhancing this opportunity further by using recycled materials and drawing a relationship between skateable structures and sustainable architecture is a stroke of genius. We're very excited to see where Pensacola goes with this ground-breaking idea."