'Concrete Is Cool': Grindline Skateparks Inc.'s Work on Northwest Skatepark

How skateboarders turned concrete craftsmen accomplished award-winning concrete work in a Washington state skatepark.

North Bend Formwork 1 Courtesy Grindline
Grindline Skateparks Inc.

As the first-place winner in the American Concrete Institute’s (ACI) 2023 Excellence in Concrete Construction Awards/Decorative Concrete Category, the Torguson Park skatepark demonstrates concrete’s potential for visual appeal and much more. Opened in 2021 in North Bend, Washington, the cast-in-place concrete facility meets high standards for safety, requires little maintenance and provides a fun and challenging environment for its users.

Torguson Park is the principal active recreation park in the city and the expansion was part of a master-plan redevelopment. The old 6,000 sq.-ft., single-bowl-style facility was replaced with one that is nearly 13,000 sq.ft. The new park features a one-of-a-kind flow bowl, a pool style bowl, and a large street skate area to create three separate skating experiences. The park’s features are organized in a progression that provides users the ability to build their skills in an incremental fashion. The design also provides space for future expansion, if needed.

North Bend Drone No Fence Courtesy GrindlineGrindline Skateparks Inc.


The park was built by Grindline Skateparks Inc., a Seattle-based skatepark construction company. The Grindline team is comprised of former professional skateboarders turned concrete craftsmen, which puts them in touch with the needs of their parks’ users. Grindline worked with the community to gather input for the new design and began construction in 2020, staying on schedule even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Team Members: 
• Owner: Si View Metropolitan Park District 
• Architectural Firm: Grindline Skateparks Inc.
 Engineering Firm: Mackay Sposito
• General Contractor: Grindline Skateparks Inc.
 Concrete Contractor: Grindline Skateparks Inc.
 Concrete Supplier: Heidelberg Materials (formerly Cadman Inc.)

Ready-mixed concrete allowed the team to design and build any shapes they desired, including a rock-coping mini pool, a replica of a mountain, stairs, banks, ledges, and curbs. The earthy color palette of the concrete, achieved using integral color, was inspired by nearby Mt. Si, which can be seen from the facility. The skatepark was constructed using the shotcrete method, which helped achieve the smooth-flowing transitions and curves of the design.

“The complexities associated with building a skatepark don’t have to do with its structural system, as people sometimes assume,” says James Klinedinst, the senior project manager for Grindline. “Skateparks are non-structural slabs-on-grade—a very familiar type of construction. We use earthwork to provide the shape and support of the concrete skating surface. The complexities have to do with making the surface smoother than what is required by many other types of concrete construction.”

When constructing a new skatepark, earth is shaped and then formwork is installed. “The formwork used for skateparks is unique compared to other types of concrete construction,” says Matt Fluegge, chief executive officer for Grindline. “We don’t use panels, since every part of a skatepark is geometrically unique. We custom fabricate radii out of plywood and board lumber.”

After formwork is in place, concrete is installed, 6-in. thick in areas requiring the shotcrete method, and 5-in. thick in the conventionally placed slab areas.

As with all concrete construction, crews must make sure they are using installation methods that will prevent cracking. Since wide expansion joints containing joint filler would create too much roughness on the skating surface, the team ensures smoothness first by sequencing pours in such a way as to create seams in locations that might be prone to cracking, and second by saw-cutting 1/4 in. control joints in the remaining critical locations.

North Bend Formwork 2 Courtesy GrindlineGrindline Skateparks Inc.

Finishing methods are also important. “We hand trowel an air-entrained mix, which is not standard,” says Klinedinst. “Typically, air-entrained mixtures are broomed or textured. It requires a technique learned over years to hand-trowel in a way that releases the trapped air and prevents delamination.”

Having consistency in the concrete mix is also critical. “We’ve used a tried and true, off-the-shelf shotcrete mix from Heidelberg Materials for years. And while we have that single, preferred mix, because we build parks all over the country, we also have to take into consideration variations due to regionally available aggregates and other local materials,” says Klinedinst. “We address this by sending our suppliers a cut sheet that breaks down aggregates and other mix contents.” The concrete mix included Heidelberg Materials' EcoCemPLC portland limestone cement, which lowers the carbon footprint by about 10%.

North Bend Pano Courtesy GrindlineGrindline Skateparks Inc.

Connecting Skaters with Concrete Jobs

The Grindline team is not the only organization to discover that skateboarders and concrete are a natural fit. A program called Skate4Concrete points passionate skateboarders who are looking to build their careers toward industry opportunities.“Whether an individual is college-bound or not, there’s a way to make a mark on the skateboarding community and play a bigger role in the sport. Skate4Concrete shares information on concrete construction and supply jobs, along with information on certification. It even connects skaters with details on degree programs,” says Crystal Howard, founder of Project Cornerstone and Skate4Concrete.

Corey Rosson, senior sales representative, Pacific Northwest Heidelberg Materials, works in the building materials industry but has been a skateboarder since he was 10 years old. Rosson became aware of Skate4Concrete when Heidelberg Materials North America mentioned the program on social media channels. “It’s exciting to see Skate4Concrete offering a different approach to career development. Often, three main routes come to mind for young people coming out of high school: college, trade school or the military. Having an additional pathway that connects people to work—work that’s built around something they already love—is a real benefit,” says Rosson.

North Bend Partial Formwork Courtesy GrindlineGrindline Skateparks Inc.

A major initiative of Skate4Concrete is an internship program that had its first student intern in the summer of 2023. Interns spend three months being part of a building team for a skatepark and, one day a week, gain exposure to various aspects of the concrete industry by touring facilities such as concrete and/or cement plants and quarries. They also spend time with city officials who are managing the skatepark construction project. As a joint effort between Skate4Concrete, California State University Chico and skatepark designers, it is currently available only to Concrete Industry Management (CIM) program students. The CIM program is offered at five universities across the U.S.

Paul J. Nunez, a skateboarder as well as a student enrolled in the CIM program at California State University Chico, was the first concrete skatepark intern for the Skate4Concrete program. “This is a fantastic internship; I tell everyone how great it is,” says Nunez. “I went to Lenexa, Kansas for a summer and by my second day on the skatepark construction site, I was helping place rebar. As the work progressed, I learned how to pump water off the site, work with inspectors on quality, handle shotcrete equipment, and, eventually, finish the concrete surface.”

North Bend Flow Courtesy GrindlineGrindline Skateparks Inc.

Nunez also learned a lot by connecting with city officials and taking advantage of the industry tours. “Every Friday throughout the summer I did something offsite. I spent time with the Lenexa city inspector and a Parks & Recreation official. I toured a plant and saw a limestone mine. It was an amazing way to learn about different concrete careers.”

Since skateboarders spend hours interacting with concrete and develop an intuitive feel for its sculptural potential, bringing them on board as skatepark designers and contractors can only lead to more functional—and exciting—skateparks, as the award-winning Torguson Park project demonstrates.

North Bend Ramp Courtesy GrindlineGrindline Skateparks Inc.

“Nominated from our Washington Excellence in Concrete Construction awards program, Torguson Park competed and won at the highest level of concrete competition: ACI’s International Excellence in Concrete Construction awards program. This recognition has opened doors for our industry locally as we conduct tours and meet with officials to present them with their awards. Over the course of only one year, concrete skateboard parks have achieved fantastic awareness of our industry, our product, and our connection with community, and Skate4Concrete has placed a highly regarded concrete curriculum in our high schools and community colleges to attract the next generation of workforce that will lead our industry. Torguson isn’t just another skateboard park; it’s now an ambassador for our industry and clearly says, ‘concrete is cool!” says Bruce Chattin, Executive Director, Washington Aggregates & Concrete Association and Washington ACI Chapter.