Jolie Crider Memorial Skatepark 2.0, designed by Finnish landscape architect and former professional skater Janne Saario, opened in mid-September, in Columbus, Indiana. Credit…Hadley Fruits
Skateboarding in Style
Columbus, Ind., is known as a mecca of postwar modern architecture, with churches, libraries, and post offices designed by Eliel and Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Harry Weese and a host of other big names. The city’s latest destination is somewhat smaller: a skatepark, albeit one with an international design pedigree. Jolie Crider Memorial Skatepark 2.0, designed by Janne Saario, a Finnish landscape architect and former professional skater, opened in early September. The skatepark bridges the past and future of Columbus, with Mitchell Giurgola Architects’ 1972 Columbus East High School right across the street.
The podcast “99 Percent Invisible” got Mr. Saario the job: Jonathan Nesci, a designer who lives in Columbus and is the father of a skater, cold-emailed the architect after listening to “The Pool and the Stream,” a 2017 episode about the connection between curvaceous swimming pools and skatepark design featuring Mr. Saario. Mr. Nesci eventually gave Mr. Saario one of his mirror-polished side tables in return for a conceptual design. Hunger Skateparks, in Bloomington, Ind., signed on to build the $400,000, 14,000-square-foot project, with support from the city, the county’s Heritage Fund, the Columbus Park Foundation and local donors. The new concrete skatepark is far more durable than its predecessor, as well as more seamlessly integrated into the landscape, reflecting the same investment in advanced design as those public works of the 1950s and 1960s. Information: columbusparkfoundation.org
Lange, Alexandra (2019, October 3). A Panorama of Design. The New York Times, Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com
History of the Jolie Crider Memorial Skatepark
In 1999 a group of skaters had a dream to build a skate park. That August the Jolie Crider Memorial Skatepark was dedicated at Clifty Park.
In 2018, the former 15,000 sg. ft. wooden skatepark was almost 20 years old and in disrepair. The existing skatelite material was so worn out that maintaining the current structure had long been an issue. When faced with the choice between renovation and rebuild the answer had become clear. The proposed new skatepark would be made of concrete which will require little maintenance and last for generations to come.
Columbus is often called the “Midwestern Mecca of Architecture,” ranking sixth on the list of the nation’s most significant cities for design innovation and heritage, according to the American Institute of Architects (Washington, D.C., is ranked 5th). Columbus is also a top 20 spot in National Geographic Traveler’s list of historic destinations around the world. In true Columbus fashion, when the original wooden skatepark which was built in 1999, was in need of a complete over-haul, the wheels of artistic design began to turn. Janne Saario, labeled as Time Magazine’s “Next Generation Leader” was sought out to fill the role as project designer. Janne is a former pro-skater turned landscape architect from Finland. As a result of Janne’s design, the Jolie Crider Memorial Skatepark 2.0 is now the first skatepark in the U.S. to be designed by Finnish architect Janne Saario. Our brand new, 12,000 square foot concrete skatepark was built by our neighbors, Hunger Skateparks, who are based out of Bloomington, Indiana. The skatepark adds to Columbus’ architectural influence by complementing the existing Finnish architecture in Columbus, which attracts people from around the world.
Crider 2.0 is a space for an eclectic and expansive mix of ridership and skill levels. At any given time visiting the park, you might find people on skateboards, longboards, roller derby or in-line skates, BMX, and scooters. Crider 2.0 is a space where individuals want to gather, even outside of the above mentioned uses, by participating in outdoor concerts and events. On the peripheral of the skatepark, there are other features that help to draw people in such as concrete stools and a stainless steel ping pong table. Aside from the ping pong table, elements were constructed with the intent to be skatable so as to not create a restrictive atmosphere, but rather a positive one. Crider 2.0 fills a gap within this park and our community; an outdoor space that promotes creativity for users of all ages.
The park’s original namesake, Jolie Crider, was a local student who died unexpectedly of spinal meningitis at the age of 14 in 1998. Jolie was an individual who was an exceptional athlete and a person who was a friend to all, regardless of the social circles in which they found themselves. Therefore, given the skateparks’ inclusive nature, it is easy to see the spirit of Jolie continuing to resonate in Crider 2.0. It is with great gratitude that we applaud the Crider family, as well as 200 other community members, who all came together to make this skatepark renovation a reality. Whether they donated their supplies, time, or made monetary donations, they all had the same end goal in mind which was to build a skatepark that is true to Columbus’ exceptional architectural standards and drive to bring people together. With an overall goal of creating a space that is welcoming to everyone, while working to fulfill our Department’s mission statement of Enriching Lives and Building Community, we feel this project exemplified that vision!
Visit the Columbus Area Visitors Center for more information on the Jolie Crider Memorial Skatepark and Janne Saario.