Launch Slideshow

Skatepark

Lions Park 2005-2009

Lions Park 2005-2009

  • Lions Park Gates

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC3F0%2Etmp_tcm20-582654.jpg

    true

    Lions Park Gates

    600

    Timothy Hursley

    Lions Park Gates

  • Baseball field and dugout

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpBC02%2Etmp_tcm20-582636.jpg

    true

    Baseball field and dugout

    600

    Timothy Hursley

    Baseball field and dugout

  • Dugout, backstop, and lights

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpB9F6%2Etmp_tcm20-582634.jpg

    true

    Dugout, backstop, and lights

    600

    Timothy Hursley

    Dugout, backstop, and lights

  • Master Plan

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpBCB4%2Etmp_tcm20-582637.jpg

    true

    Master Plan

    600

    Courtesy Rural Studio

    Master Plan

  • Toilet Rooms

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC3EF%2Etmp_tcm20-582653.jpg

    true

    Toilet Rooms

    600

    Timothy Hursley

    Toilet Rooms

  • Toilets

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC3F2%2Etmp_tcm20-582656.jpg

    true

    Toilets

    600

    Timothy Hursley

    Toilets

  • Concrete surfaces and seating

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpBBC4%2Etmp_tcm20-582635.jpg

    true

    Concrete surfaces and seating

    600

    Timothy Hursley

    Concrete surfaces and seating

  • Skatepark

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC3EC%2Etmp_tcm20-582650.jpg

    true

    Skatepark

    600

    Timothy Hursley

    Skatepark

  • Image

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpB983%2Etmp_tcm20-582633.jpg

    true

    Image

    600

    Courtesy Rural Studio

  • Concession Stand

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC3EE%2Etmp_tcm20-582652.jpg

    true

    Concession Stand

    600

    Timothy Hursley

    Concession Stand

  • Concession Stand mouth diagram

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC3EB%2Etmp_tcm20-582649.jpg

    true

    Concession Stand mouth diagram

    600

    Courtesy Rural Studio

    Concession Stand mouth diagram

  • Concession Stand opening sequence

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpBD75%2Etmp_tcm20-582638.jpg

    true

    Concession Stand opening sequence

    600

    Courtesy Rursal Studio

    Concession Stand opening sequence

Launch Slideshow

Maze rendering under the roof structure

Lions Park 2009-2010

Lions Park 2009-2010

  • The 2009??2010 thesis class at Rural Studio designed the next phase of Lions Park, a playscape, that is still under construction. Dirt will be shifted to create a series of small hills, around which will be an innovative play structure for area children constructed out of 2,500 galvanized steel barrels that were originally used to transport mint oil from India. ??We were looking at ways to create space cheaply, as well as at a great scale,?? says program director Andrew Freear. The students created a design using these donated barrels to ??make huge, great maze forms,?? Freear says, and to create a cloud-form roof over the ground-level structure. Two mock-ups have already been completed, and construction will continue over the next several months.??Thesis class: Cameron Acheson, Bill Batey, Courtney Mathias, Jamie Sartory?Rural Studio Instructors and Staff: Andrew Freear, Rusty Smith, Lindsay Butler, Dick Hudgens, John Marusich, Daniel Splaingard, Danny Wicke, Steve Long, Johnny Parker?Consultants: GFGR Architects and Engineers; Atelier Ten; Xavier Vendrell Studio; Wheeler Kearns, Architects?Barrel Donation: IP Callison

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpBFC2%2Etmp_tcm20-582639.jpg

    true

    The 2009??2010 thesis class at Rural Studio designed the next phase of Lions Park, a playscape, that is still under construction. Dirt will be shifted to create a series of small hills, around which will be an innovative play structure for area children constructed out of 2,500 galvanized steel barrels that were originally used to transport mint oil from India. ??We were looking at ways to create space cheaply, as well as at a great scale,?? says program director Andrew Freear. The students created a design using these donated barrels to ??make huge, great maze forms,?? Freear says, and to create a cloud-form roof over the ground-level structure. Two mock-ups have already been completed, and construction will continue over the next several months.??Thesis class: Cameron Acheson, Bill Batey, Courtney Mathias, Jamie Sartory?Rural Studio Instructors and Staff: Andrew Freear, Rusty Smith, Lindsay Butler, Dick Hudgens, John Marusich, Daniel Splaingard, Danny Wicke, Steve Long, Johnny Parker?Consultants: GFGR Architects and Engineers; Atelier Ten; Xavier Vendrell Studio; Wheeler Kearns, Architects?Barrel Donation: IP Callison

    600

    Courtesy Rural Studio

    The 2009–2010 thesis class at Rural Studio designed the next phase of Lions Park, a playscape, that is still under construction. Dirt will be shifted to create a series of small hills, around which will be an innovative play structure for area children constructed out of 2,500 galvanized steel barrels that were originally used to transport mint oil from India. "We were looking at ways to create space cheaply, as well as at a great scale," says program director Andrew Freear. The students created a design using these donated barrels to "make huge, great maze forms," Freear says, and to create a cloud-form roof over the ground-level structure. Two mock-ups have already been completed, and construction will continue over the next several months.

    Thesis class: Cameron Acheson, Bill Batey, Courtney Mathias, Jamie Sartory; Rural Studio Instructors and Staff: Andrew Freear, Rusty Smith, Lindsay Butler, Dick Hudgens, John Marusich, Daniel Splaingard, Danny Wicke, Steve Long, Johnny Parker; Consultants: GFGR Architects and Engineers, Atelier Ten, Xavier Vendrell Studio, Wheeler Kearns, Architects; Barrel Donation: IP Callison

  • Long section

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpBFEB%2Etmp_tcm20-582640.jpg

    true

    Long section

    600

    Courtesy Rural Studio

    Long section

  • Maze rendering

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC0ED%2Etmp_tcm20-582641.jpg

    true

    Maze rendering

    600

    Courtesy Rural Studio

    Maze rendering

  • Maze rendering under the roof structure

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC331%2Etmp_tcm20-582642.jpg

    true

    Maze rendering under the roof structure

    600

    Courtesy Rural Studio

    Maze rendering under the roof structure

  • Maze rendering under the roof structure

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC357%2Etmp_tcm20-582643.jpg

    true

    Maze rendering under the roof structure

    600

    Courtesy Rural Studio

    Maze rendering under the roof structure

  • Rendering of play area under the roof structure

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC3A2%2Etmp_tcm20-582644.jpg

    true

    Rendering of play area under the roof structure

    600

    Courtesy Rural Studio

    Rendering of play area under the roof structure

  • Mock-up construction

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC3E7%2Etmp_tcm20-582645.jpg

    true

    Mock-up construction

    600

    Courtesy Rural Studio

    Mock-up construction

  • Mock-up barrel connection system for roof structure

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC3E8%2Etmp_tcm20-582646.jpg

    true

    Mock-up barrel connection system for roof structure

    600

    Courtesy Rural Studio

    Mock-up barrel connection system for roof structure

  • Mock-up roof structure load test

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC3E9%2Etmp_tcm20-582647.jpg

    true

    Mock-up roof structure load test

    600

    Courtesy Rural Studio

    Mock-up roof structure load test

  • Panorama of mock-up with raised roof canopy

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmpC3EA%2Etmp_tcm20-582648.jpg

    true

    Panorama of mock-up with raised roof canopy

    600

    Courtesy Rural Studio

    Panorama of mock-up with raised roof canopy

Thinking back to 2000, when Auburn University’s Rural Studio declined to participate in an overhaul of the 40-acre Lions Park in Greensboro, Ala., program director Andrew Freear says, “We simply weren’t able to imagine doing a project of that scale.” But when the Lions Park committee—leaders from the local branch of the Lions Club international philanthropic organization, the City of Greensboro, Hale County, and other groups—extended the invitation again in 2004, Freear jumped at the chance because Rural Studio had armed itself with experience in designing a series of individual projects at another park in the intervening years. Now, six years later, Samuel Mockbee’s school with a conscience is still deeply engaged in Lions Park, with each class revisiting the master plan at the beginning of its thesis year and designing a project to meet the needs of the roughly 2,000-person community. “I think it’s the most important project we’ve ever done,” Freear says.


2005–2006: Master Plan and Baseball Fields
When the Lions Park committee first approached Rural Studio about working on the park, Freear remembers that they said, “We have a really nice park, but it’s being done in an ad hoc manner.” So one of the first tasks for the 2005–2006 thesis class was to develop a master plan for the site. This document became the touchstone for future projects: At the beginning of each school year, students tweak the plan to address projects in the works.

In addition to the master plan, the 2005–2006 class redesigned and reoriented the site’s four full-sized baseball diamonds and two T-ball fields and developed a parking strategy for the site. But the studio came up against what would be the first of many financial hurdles to be faced over the coming years. “What they [the committee] say is that they don’t have any resources,” Freear says. “But what we found is that they actually have a great amount of resources.” For example, Freear was able to facilitate parking for the site when he worked with the city and the Lions Club to deed a strip of land along Hall Street, the thoroughfare adjacent to the park, so that the county probate judge could use money from the roads budget to widen the paved roadway. This created enough parking that cars could be restricted on park grounds, no mean feat for a group that initially dismissed the scheme for lack of funds. “We convinced a group of people who wouldn’t normally talk to each other to chart a course for the park,” Freear says.

To fund the baseball fields, the students approached the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, the philanthropic arm of Major League Baseball, and received a $100,000 grant; additional funds were raised locally and by Rural Studio, and with donated time, labor, and materials, the total amount raised was equivalent to $500,000. With these funds in hand, the studio reoriented the four full-sized fields in a hub-and-spoke format, placing all seating and dugouts in the center, an area that would come to be known as Grand Central. “Now a mother can come into Grand Central and stand behind home plate for all the fields, so she can see two games going on at one time,” Freear says. Curved-fence backstops and bent-steel dugout enclosures emblazoned with field names identify the four fields from Grand Central, and lights make games visible after dark. The two T-ball fields are located to the northeast.

Once the reorientation was fully completed in 2007, most of the students stayed on for a year after graduation as volunteers to oversee construction, a trend that continues with each class. And as Grand Central took shape, it became the site of interventions by subsequent thesis classes.

Project Lions Park Master Plan and Baseball Fields, Greensboro, Ala.
Designers Auburn University School of Architecture’s Rural Studio Thesis Class of 2005–2006—Laura Filipek, Alicia Gjesvold, Jeremy Sargent, Daniel Splaingard, Mark Wise
Rural Studio Instructors and Staff Andrew Freear, Rusty Smith, Lindsay Butler, Dick Hudgens, John Marusich, Daniel Splaingard, Danny Wicke, Steve Long, Johnny Parker
Consultants GFGR Architects and Engineers, Chicago—Joe Farruggia; Atelier Ten, New York and London—Paul Stoller; Xavier Vendrell Studio, Chicago and Barcelona, and University of Illinois at Chicago—Xavier Vendrell; Wheeler Kearns Architects, Chicago—Dan Wheeler
Donations and Sponsors Major League Baseball’s Baseball Tomorrow Fund; Alabama Power Foundation (general park); Turnipseed International—Jim Turnipseed (steel for entire park); Williams Tree Farm (trees for entire park); Encore Azalea (plants donation)


2006–2007: Surfaces and Toilet Rooms
The successful process of designing the baseball fields led Freear and the other instructors at Rural Studio to assign two thesis classes to the Lions Park project in the 2006–2007 school year. The focus of the first team was to create a series of small interventions that were termed Surfaces—which included a set of gates for the park, as well as a clever solution for bringing utilities—such as power lines—deeper into the site. The second team looked at creating a structure for public restrooms. Because the previous class was still in town volunteering on the baseball fields construction, they served, Freear says, as “invaluable mentors and critics to the next team,” helping the younger students to navigate both the process of a design-build project, but also the local politics involved in realizing the projects.

The Surfaces team was charged with creating a new identity for the park, working with donated materials and fabrication. A monumental steel gate, spelling out “Lions Park” in bright yellow-painted steel, is the first in a series of wayfinding tactics that draw visitors into the site from the main parking area on Hall Street. Concrete pathways not only lead visitors to Grand Central, they also disguise buried utilities. The strips of concrete project up and out of the ground to form picnic tables and benches near the ball fields.

The second team designed the Toilet Rooms, which Freear calls “the smallest tilt-up concrete project in the world.” An addition to an existing red-brick building on site, the structure had to be extremely durable to withstand being hit by a foul ball or a carelessly swung baseball bat. Tilt-up walls topped with a metal roof deck enclose a row of restroom stalls that are outfitted with prison-grade stainless steel toilets and cedar plank doors. The stalls are flanked by a row of shiny culverts that capture rainwater runoff from the roof; the water collects at the base (where all of the culverts are connected) and the pressure of the water collected flushes the toilets. “It’s on a float valve, so if the water gets too low, we back it up with some city water,” Freear says. On the other side of the culverts, and under the continuous metal roof, the student team created a projecting performance stage where spectators can lounge or casual spoken word or musical performances can be staged, taking advantage of Grand Central’s new infrastructure.

Project Lions Park Surfaces and Signage and Toilet Rooms, Greensboro, Ala.
Surfaces Designers Auburn University School of Architecture’s Rural Studio Thesis Class of 2006–2007—Adam Woodward, Joey Aplin, Lindsay Butler, Anthony Vu
Toilet Room Designers Auburn University School of Architecture’s Rural Studio Thesis Class of 2006–2007—Adam Kent, Russ Gibbs, Mark Dempsey, Pamela Raetz
Rural Studio Instructors and Staff Andrew Freear, Rusty Smith, Lindsay Butler, Dick Hudgens, John Marusich, Daniel Splaingard, Danny Wicke, Steve Long, Johnny Parker
Consultants GFGR Architects and Engineers, Chicago—Joe Farruggia; Atelier Ten, New York and London—Paul Stoller; Xavier Vendrell Studio, Chicago and Barcelona, and University of Illinois at Chicago—Xavier Vendrell; Wheeler Kearns Architects, Chicago—Dan Wheeler
Donation and Sponsors USDA (grant for Lions Park gates); Joe Aplin Sr. (steel fabrication of Lions Park gates); Montgomery Wholesale Lumber (Lumber and cedar); Service Construction Supply (Tilt-Up Concrete Knowledge and Materials); Brown Mechanical Contractors. (water recycling, collection, and management); Alabama Power Foundation (general park); Turnipseed International—Jim Turnipseed (steel for entire park); Williams Tree Farm (trees for entire park); Encore Azalea (plants donation)


2008–2009: Skatepark and Concessions
There was a year-long gap in design projects while Freear took a sabbatical, but Rural Studio returned to Lions Park in the fall of 2008. Two thesis studio teams tackled very different but equally ambitious projects. The first was a skateboarding park that wends it way through the landscape, complete with half-pipes, jumps, and other obstacles. Funding was donated by the Tony Hawk Foundation, and the end result is “probably the most amazing skatepark he [Tony Hawk]’s ever had for $25,000,” Freear says. More a skate trail than a conventional skatepark, visitors can travel on their skateboards from the front gates and into a central hub of paths and ramps. The scheme not only creates a massive recreational landscape for kids, but also allows for quieter side areas on the path where younger and more inexperienced skaters can practice. The student design team designed and excavated the skatepark itself, using the extra soil to grade a peewee soccer field elsewhere on the site. The students laid the 6-inch thick concrete slabs and detailed everything, including the peel-ups. “They became remarkable concrete finishers; they could be professionals,” Freear says.

The second project of the 2008–2009 school year was a moveable concessions stand, which is to be parked, at least most of the time, in the Grand Central hub between the ballfields. The galvalume-clad structure opens and closes like a mouth, the roof portion hinging open and closed with a winch. A lever is used to secure the hood in position, and pins lock the mechanism in place. This solution was suggested by a former architecture student who had come back to town to consult, after the thesis class had spent six months of staring at a cartoonish drawing of the concession stand as a mouth. “We like the idea of buying food out of a mouth,” Freear says, “but we looked at all manner of ways of closing it—shutters, etc.—and everything just looked like bad teeth.” The solution also obviates the need for additional security measures. Once closed, the mouthlike hood provides a difficult-to-compromise shell. The Lions Park committee was independently pursuing the idea of a volunteer-staffed concessions stand, but recognized that most volunteers would be parents who would actually want to see the games being played. So the team raised up the body of the stand so that the volunteers can see three of the four ball fields. The stand is mounted on a trailer chassis, which allows it to be docked in the Grand Central hub, but also to be moved to other locations in the park as necessary. “It’s a piece of theater,” Freear says. “Kind of a goofy-looking thing. But I think people will find it kind of funky.”

Project Lions Park Skatepark and Concessions, Greensboro, Ala.
Skatepark Designers Auburn University School of Architecture’s Rural Studio Thesis Class of 2008–2009—Evan Dick, Brett Jones, Carrie Laurendine
Concessions Designers Auburn University School of Architecture’s Rural Studio Thesis Class of 2008–2009—John Plaster, Terran Wilson, Sandy Wolf
Rural Studio Instructors and Staff Andrew Freear, Rusty Smith, Lindsay Butler, Dick Hudgens, John Marusich, Daniel Splaingard, Danny Wicke, Steve Long, Johnny Parker
Consultants GFGR Architects and Engineers, Chicago—Joe Farruggia; Atelier Ten, New York and London—Paul Stoller; Xavier Vendrell Studio, Chicago and Barcelona, and University of Illinois at Chicago—Xavier Vendrell; Wheeler Kearns Architects, Chicago—Dan Wheeler
Donations and Sponsors The Tony Hawk Foundation (skatepark); Ready Mix USA (concrete for skate park); Capital Steel (rebar for skatepark); Delray lighting (lights for concessions); Alabama Power Foundation (general park); Turnipseed International—Jim Turnipseed (steel for entire park); Williams Tree Farm (trees for entire park); Encore Azalea (plants donation)