An Interview with Billy & Catherine Coulon
By: Mike Leeds
Evergreen just broke ground on another new park in Colorado earlier this week. How is your newest creation coming along so far?
Well we literally just started 3 days ago, but we have the bowl and street course dug. This is the largest design/build project we’ve done in awhile so we are super excited about it. There are a lot of cool elements in the park that we think people are really going to like. The town is really small, but there’s a lot of community involvement and the city people we’re working with are really nice.
How long have both of you been skating and what or who got you into it?
Well first of all it’s important to know that everyone who works on our crew are die hard skateboarders. It’s mandatory for the job. Billy has been skating for 25 years. His grandma bought him a Tony Hawk skateboard from a garage sale in 1989 and the rest is history. I started skating when I was 22, I’d done gymnastics my whole life so I had a good sense of balance (and pain tolerance!), so skateboarding came pretty naturally. Billy and I had been dating for a couple years before that, Billy would always go off skating and I felt left out. I never knew any girls who skated. When we lived in Hawaii I was hanging out at the indoor skatepark all the time, all my friends were always there. One day I decided to skate and I had the most fun I’d had in years, I felt like a kid again and I was hooked.
What inspired you to start building skateparks?
While we were living in Hawaii we watched the Northwest documentary about all the skateparks being built in Oregon and Washington. Billy was still searching for the right career, after watching that documentary we pretty much knew that would be a perfect fit for him. Shortly after that island fever and a serious lack of opportunities forced us off the islands and we landed in Portland, OR where Billy started working with Geth Noble of Airspeed Skateparks and Dreamland Skateparks for about 5 years after that.
Evergreen is known for building parks that flow and offer something for everyone. What influenced your desire to design and build parks that accomplish this?
Being avid skaters we visit as many skateparks and skate spots as we possibly can wherever we are. We felt as though there was something missing in the modern skateparks and that was a niche we thought Evergreen’s design style could fill. Essentially what we’re trying to do through our parks is create the essence that you can just skate forever without stopping.
Nice! Even though every park is a labor of love and work of art, can you name some of Billy’s favorite designs and a few of the crew’s most anticipated to shred upon completion?
Windells is definitely Billy’s favorite because of the sheer size & creative freedom. He also really likes what we are able to do in the tight space with the indoor concrete at Commonwealth Skatepark in Portland. We are really excited to skate this park we’re working on Milliken, Colorado and also our upcoming project in Fredericksburg, Texas.
Creative space and freedom in every one of those parks seems to be what it’s all about. Are there any basic criteria that Billy starts with? For example minimum spacing between features to allow for set up on tricks? Also anticipated lines to prevent skaters from crisscrossing on their runs?
(Billy answering) When designing a park I try to look at the park as a whole and make the obstacles work with all of the other obstacles. Every obstacle should have a dynamic/cohesive relationship with all of the aspects of the park.
Makes complete sense for the goal of flow. How about a formula of sorts to determine an estimated number of skaters that can be riding your parks at one time without overcrowding (realizing skill level as a variable)? It seems like a challenge to strike a balance between flow and space as well as the right mix of transition and street features like banks, ledges and stairs.
I try to make all areas (or at least almost all) accessible to all levels of skaters. I definitely try not bottle neck the park. I also try to design features around the perimeter of the park so people can keep skating without stopping. It really comes down to square footage- obviously a larger park is going to accommodate more skaters.
Right on. Is there anything that you would like to share with skaters, skatepark advocates, Parks Directors and others involved in the process in regards to knowing where to start to build a park that flows for everyone?
Do your research. Make sure to use the skater owned & operate companies that specialize in design/build and have a good reputation. Stay away from modular & pre-cast concrete companies.
It sounds like the future is looking very bright for Evergreen. Thank you for the opportunity to interview you Billy & Catherine. With one of you in the trenches and one busy in the office, SPS truly appreciates your time and sharing ideas to help communities around the world build the best skateparks possible. Any closing thoughts and information…?
Skatepark building is in its infancy right now. There is a lot left to explore in skatepark building and we are only at the tip of the iceberg. There are a million obstacles that we don’t even have names for yet. The possibilities are endless. It takes laying a solid foundation of using the right groups and people to make sure it progresses in the right way.
Billy & Catherine Coulon
Evergreen Skateparks LLC