More Spohn Ranch prefab concrete info

Spohn Ranch prefab concrete

As a followup to our earlier coverage of the Jacksonville Beach, Florida skatepark, here’s some more info on Spohn Ranch and their prefab concrete option. Aaron Spohn got his professional start building ramps for the X Games in 1992. According to their official correspondence, Spohn Ranch has some sort of ongoing partnership agreement with Pillar Design Studios as well as an organization called the Action Park Alliance whom they bill as “skatepark operations professionals.” (Uuuugh! That’s a topic for a different post altogether.) Spohn Ranch also builds metal, wood and alternative surface prefab ramps, but I’ve highlighted the concrete offerings. (Updated)

Spohn Ranch prefab concrete

I’d hoped to get some detailed info about what they had to offer, but instead I got a link to PDF of marketing fluff, generic company info and a vague product brochure.

Spohn Ranch prefab concrete

ORIGIN: MY OBSESSION WITH SKATING BEGAN ON THE STREETS OF LOS ANGELES IN 1972, when I got my fi rst skateboard at the age of twelve. Always pushing the limits, I soon began building makeshift ramps, getting more than my share of bruises and broken bones. Ever since then, I’ve wanted to build the perfect place to skate.

In my first municipal project, a group of friends and I lobbied the city for a skatepark in Venice. We attended countless meetings, built models and made speeches, but our park was never built.

Taking matters into my own hands, I built the biggest half- pipe in Southern California in my backyard. Soon, one half- pipe became two and three roommates became twelve. It became impossible to keep our little skate spot a secret and before long, “Spohn Ranch” was a destination for skaters from around the world.

Soon after, ESPN partnered with Spohn Ranch to design and build the X-Games competition courses for the first five years of the event. We have since provided courses for every major skateboard and BMX competition.

Sharing our experience in design, engineering and specialty fabrication, the Spohn Ranch family has produced over 400 skateparks for communities all across the world. We pride ourselves in serving every community’s youth with the same level of quality as the X-Games.

As the skatepark industry continues to grow, what truly separates us from our competitors is our level of dedication and our passion for what we do. We are a company of uniquely talented people, all with a zeal for action sports. To us, skateparks are a whole lot more than just another product to sell. I know how important they can be to kids who have nowhere to skate safely and legally.

I suppose my desire as a 12 year-old to build a perfect place to skate has never been completely satisfi ed. Until it is, Spohn Ranch will continue to do what we’ve done for years: build the best skateparks in the world.

PHILOSOPHY: IF A SKATEPARK ISN’T RIGHT, IT’S WRONG! Skateboarding is finally accepted by the masses. More and more communities are building skateparks. Unfortunately, a large number of bad parks are being built.

I truly feel for the kids who wished so hard and waited so long for a park and then got poorly arranged sub-standard ramps or a concrete bowl that rides like a washboard. Many sales people and general contractors don’t know the first thing about a skatepark, but they often have the biggest impact on the final product.

When the kids become bored or can’t safely skate their park, they go back to the streets and are then held out as the problem. “We built you a park and you didn’t even use it!”

The truth is that designing and building skateparks isn’t easy. A skatepark designer needs years of experience to understand how structures and surfaces skate. Few designers develop the skater’s eye required to create a course with proper flow.

Spohn Ranch isn’t an industry newcomer rushing to sell as many ramps as possible before the fad dies. We are a friends-and- family-owned business that specializes and believes in action sports. We listen to the desires of both kids and community and then help create unique solutions. From planning to operation, we know this industry very well and we love to share our knowledge.

There are many options for park development and design. We know that certain park elements work better in concrete and some translate better as ramps with a Skatelite surface. We also understand that budget, climate and site requirements are all factors in the final equation. For this reason we offer several product and service options to fit every need. We won’t sell you a ramp if you need a bowl or go forward with any design unless we know it works.

Our goal is to build something that’s custom, unique and truly right for your community. Everyone in our organization shares this goal. From salespeople to engineer to installer, we’re here to do our best for you.

Here’s a few pages of the concrete-specific information. You can click to enlarge them. It’s an interesting technique to be sure. They bring up some valid points and show examples of some shoddy hand poured and finished concrete. To be fair though, they aren’t really implying that all hand poured jobs will be poor, they are just saying that a hand pour is more expensive and has the potential to be sub-par whereas the manufactured nature of their product is supposed to ensure uniform results. Raise your hand if you’ve ever skated a poorly made concrete skatepark. (Raise your hand again if you’ve ever skated a prefab park that wasn’t a POS within a year of it’s construction…) While they may be on to something, It doesn’t look like they have a very large installed base.

While the aim of the brochure is to cast doubts on the hand poured park, there is one subtle but very important difference that they fail to point out. Check out the difference between the precast and hand pour photos in the document below left: Notice the hand pour has a waterfall and thus varying depths, while the pre-cast version has all the same transition and is the same height everywhere withthe exception of an extension, which is not the same effect as having a bowl of multiple depths.

Spohn Ranch prefab concrete

The coping reveal in the left document below looks pretty burly. It looks like it might have an outter cometal covering. If not, I’d hate to have to try and figure out how to replace the cement coping after a few years of hard use. Traditional pool coping and fake pool coping poured in sections can be pulled up and relaid. In the document on the right, the bowl section is highly reminiscent of those above ground pools. Something tells me the experience of skating one of those would be similar to swimming in one of those pools; enjoyable, but not as fun as the real thing.

Spohn Ranch prefab concrete

The page on the left (below) further illustrates the cookie cutter nature of a prefab tranny park. It’s essentially the same obstacle repeated everywhere. If you prefer tranny, that experience can certainly be made the most of, but it means a park that is ultimately not very challenging long term. Skating one section will be exactly like skating any other section. This can be find if you prefer to concentrate on making your tricks, but part of the fun of some of the world’s most memorable parks is usually adapting to the varied change-ups in terrain. The right hand document shows a little bit of the installation process. It would be very interesting to see some of the construction process, but they might consider that a trade secret.

Spohn Ranch prefab concrete

Prefab for a street obstacle might be a good way to go however, since a lot of (most?) street skaters prefer to concentrate on the one-hitter, and even when stringing them together, getting from one point to the next is often more incidental. Prefab for the street skate spot level? Why not?

Spohn Ranch prefab concrete

15 Comments

  1. anyone actually skated one of these parks?

    pillar is designing our city park, and i guarantee you that this gets proposed at the next meeting. any more info. on the actual “skateability” of it would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Seth Levy on January 29, 2008 - Reply

    Yesterday I skated a modular concrete park by a company called solo (www.soloramps.com) and I gotta say, it IS a step up above the normal modular companies. That said, it felt very unstable under my 175 lbs and the concrete was very chalky. The ramp design was obviously not done by a skateboarder. Nonetheless, it was very fun and their fake jersey barrier would certainly be welcome in any skatepark

  3. If they could outsource the work to china that would be the ultimate, but I guess working to eliminate craftsmanship, imagination, and creativity, in favor of uniformity,and assembly line efficiency hmm… well as long as it’s got the x-games seal of approval I’m all for it. “I’ll take the Mcskatepark #3 can I get fries with that.”

  4. i skated that park in their material shown as a comparison to hand poured. not so bad. however (i am saying it again) IT WAS NOT BUILT BY SPOHN RAMPS. those fuckers are taking photos of skatepark in east germany built by different company and showing it as something they worked on. is it legal in this cuntry?

  5. bailgun on January 30, 2008 - Reply

    i think a better title for this might’ve been “more spohn ranch overpriced garbage that shouldn’t ever be called a skatepark, and will have untold problems and hassles due to it’s inferior construction.”

    but i suppose that’s a little long.

  6. That modular crappola was being shoved down our throats in Dunedin by the rec staff, but we somehow managed to educate 3/5 of our commissioners. $380K was to be sent to Canada for shipping down a bunch of concrete monoliths (like moving the space shuttle), when you could have true craftsmen building a really good park while stimulating your local economy. I know Team Pain, Charlotte Engineering, the local concrete industry, and most importantly the local skateboarders all appreciate those efforts. Long live the concrete artists that build our parks. Screw the playground companies!

  7. Seth Levy on January 30, 2008 - Reply

    don’t forget how environmentally unfriendly their method is (if you care about that). The drive from their warehouse in Canada to Florida sure wastes a lot of gas

  8. THUG GUT on January 31, 2008 - Reply

    SPHON RANCH STARTED MAKING BIKE PARKS, NOT SKATEBOARD PARKS SO WITH THE DURABLE METAL AS A MEDIUM BIKE PARKS THEY MADE. AFTER THE CONCRETE ISSUE STARTED AFFECTING THEIR SALES.. THEY HAVE NOW BECOME THE EXCLUSIVE REPS IN THE UNITED STATES…THE RAMPS ARE MAUFACTURED IN CANADA BY BARKMAN CONCRETE. PILLAR WAS HIRED BY SPHON TO MAKE SINCE OF THEIR PRODUCD THEY HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO WORK FOR THEIR CLIENT, SPHON… AND THE CITY IS JAXONVILLE BEACH, NOT JACKSONVILLE…THEY ARE DIFERENT…

  9. Pillar does have a choice here. They are not forced to accept Spohncrete as a client. They have numerous projects in hand already besides whatever Spohncrete is giving them. Maybe they really feel its possible to create a first rate skatepark with these precast elements. It smells like a moneygrab to me though, and its risky. If these Spohncrete parks are crap, Pillar’s reputation will suffer.

  10. Jacksonville vs Jacksonville Beach. noted and fixed. Thanks

  11. Agro in jax beach on January 31, 2008 - Reply

    I wonder why spohn would false advertise like that ??? Maybe they haven’t figured it out (learning curve) But they know that they can build better crappy bowls, and they are ashamed to take pictures of ant of there own finished products?? Hey pillar whats a hit on your reputation if you got $25,000 in your pocket ??? I don’t make that in a year (stop laughing,(greedy bitches)) the idea of another park with all the same trannys and all the same flatbottom is not appealing its just too outdated we need new different flowing stuff in Jax Bch there alot of good skaters here older and younger we need to be part of the progression we need a bad ass screet course not a huge driveway with the same quarter-pipe sitting all over it!! thats weak> Spohn should stick to building playgrounds and leave the skate park building to people who still are avid skaters and not to salesmen there is nothing wrong with build onsite unless the wrong people built it. This isn’t just some retirement village skatepark, that somebody’s grandson is gonna skate twice on summer break. As for Brad @ pillar he seems human I hope he detaches himself from this spohn crap, as I have no faith in this project as it stands now I think him and Turner went to Campechee bay for a few drinks after the last meeting hopefully Brett talked some sense into him!!?? Keep it free

  12. I had a long talk with the compoany and they do make multi-level bowls. In fact in the brochure above shows one. it so smooth it is hard to see, but look it is there. And sub-contract with companies like PILLAR, and they did start with sk8ing too. get your facts straight.

  13. unicorn uterus on February 13, 2013 - Reply

    anyone have any updates on spohn – other than their extremely bland designs – is there any other “concrete” evidence that will help keep them out of running for the contract?

  14. Bend Oregon on January 9, 2014 - Reply

    Don’t let Spohn Ranch build ANYTHING in your town!!! These guys are a fucking joke. They just built a $360,000 turd of a park in my town. They didn’t listen to the skaters input at all. Their designs are retarded, their overpriced and they took 6 fucking months to do 6 weeks worth of work. Boycott Sphon Ranch and their fucktarded prefab eye sores!!!

  15. DEJVID on March 4, 2014 - Reply

    How are the doing this prefab concrete elements? with what technology? with molds?

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