Hiring the Designer

Hiring the skatepark designer is a process that confuses many people, and for good reason. There are lots of ways to employ your designer. Sometimes it will be a technical process where companies bid on the project, and sometimes it will be more casual.

To fully understand how the hiring process works, it’s helpful to know a few concepts and processes government agencies use while selecting businesses to work with. There are two processes in particular that are frequently used to select skatepark designers and builders.

In most areas, projects are legally required to follow particular processes if the expense is higher than a certain amount, usually about $25,000 (but as low as $5,000 in some areas). This amount is probably lower than the anticipated cost of your skatepark, but higher than a small, single-structure skate spot. This means that a very small facility may be inexpensive enough that you can simply hire whomever you feel is best suited for the project. If the facility will cost more than the threshold, a public bid process may be required. A very inexpensive project may not need to go to public bid while more expensive projects probably will. If your skatepark is over $50,000 (remember, the average cost for a skatepark is about $300,000) then that project will most certainly go through a public bid process.

The reason for all this legal structure is to ensure the public gets the best value for their dollar. Let’s say the mayor’s brother runs a large construction business in town called Acme Construction. The skatepark is a pretty good project and Acme would love to get the job. The mayor would clearly like to see his brother’s company do well, and hiring a local company will keep more of the town’s dollars in town, so the mayor hires Acme Construction to design and build the skatepark. Now, Acme has probably never built a skatepark before, but they figure, “how hard can it be?” They assemble some local skaters and sketch out some structures. Acme builds the structures and the park opens to widespread community excitement.

The skaters quickly realize that the park kind of sucks. Nobody wants to look like they don’t appreciate the new facility, so criticism is politely whispered among the skaters. Eventually, participation at the park dwindles and skaters return to the spots around town that they enjoyed before. Business owners tell the “ungrateful” kids to use the new skatepark. Eventually the complaints about the park’s quality reach the Parks Department. However, now the money is all gone and the excitement is over. The LAST thing the mayor wants to do is to accept that the skatepark is anything but the greatest thing since sliced bread, so the skaters are now going to face a local government that has no incentive to find a solution (and admit that things could have been done better).

Hiring a professional, experienced designer is an important part of ensuring that your skatepark is successful.

Skatepark designers are typically hired by the municipality after contacting candidate companies, or publishing online, a Request for Qualifications (RFQ). The companies interested in the project will submit their qualifications to the local government where they will be reviewed and compared.