Detroit’s new skate park reframes ollies and art

A moveable skate park in Detroit’s Monroe Blocks development is giving more than lip service to the collision of urban art and sport.  


Legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk, who owns a home in the city’s Woodbridge neighborhood, and artist Ryan McGinness joined builder George Leichtweis of Modern Skate and Surf to fashion downtown Detroit’s Wayfinding skate park, a modern mashup that’s setting new precedence for functional space in municipal settings.


The public project was proposed and produced by local gallery Library Street Collective, known for its cutting-edge contemporary artists. Real estate dynamo Bedrock, which is developing Monroe Block, chipped in. Designer McGinness, already well known for his large-scale skate-park installations for the Museum of Modern Art in New York, brought his interpretation to Detroit.


One of the most unique aspects of the project is that it’s fleeting. The 4,600-square-foot art park, including colorful way-finding motifs, six skate elements inspired by the city of Detroit and a spectator area will simply roll out once construction begins on a development directly in its footprint. The first phase of Monroe Block’s 20-story office tower and 16-story residential building with parking and retail space is slated for construction in January 2018.

For now, skaters can check out the scene near Campus Martius, where Randolph Street, Bates Street, Cadillac Square and Monroe Avenue meet, before Wayfinding needs to find a new way to exist. A functional, mobile design should make that part easy.


Hawk said in a press release that the intent of Wayfinding, however ephemeral, was to plant the seeds for more permanent parks around Detroit.


For now, this is one blank slate put to good use

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