An Interview with Park Builder Ben Bradford
On June 14, 2019 I talked with Ben Bradford to gather information for a small bio, but it quickly turned into a lengthier conversation that felt worth sharing. ~ Christy Weezer
Ben Bradford, 28 years old, Skatepark Builder
Where are you from? I grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina and live in Gainesville, Florida.
When did you start skating? 1998. I got my first board in 1998 when I was in 2nd grade and 7 years old. I moved to a new neighborhood and all the kids had boards so I got one. My uncle was a skater and he showed me a few things.
When did you start building? 2015. I worked with Grindline, Hunger, Artisan, Evergreen, and then now back to Hunger. I am the Goldilocks of park-building.
Hunger was a family to me; everywhere else didn’t feel quite right. I came home.
The crew is really good right now. Everything is tightening up steadily. Its cleaner every pour. We are dialed in right now.
What was your favorite Hunger build? New Castle is an obvious choice, but Newport DIY was so good too.
Why was New Castle the obvious choice? When I worked with other companies, the guys would sit around at night and talk about the good old days and how they used to have freedom in builds and so on. In New Castle, it was ‘the good old days’ they were describing. We had creative input and made changes. Skatepark-building has become so standardized, but with Hunger it’s not that way. In New Castle, we were in full art mode.
Why the Newport Bridge Bowl? Newport DIY was great and it wasn’t a typical job. We lived under the bridge and it felt intimate and free. Low stress, surrounded by cool people. Tent life. Small jobs are great because you can concentrate on the one feature with all your attention. That bowl is so awesome, and it was just a skeleton crew with local DIY guys to help.
What is your favorite feature to build? Flow. Nice flow with big curves and big ways to get speed. Lines with a lot of accessories like pool coping and a death box but without a lot of clutter. Not vanilla.
What is your favorite part of the overall build? Anything that is unique. Big flow bowls, non-interrupted flow, and the ability to have different features accessed simultaneously.
Wait, my favorite part? The concrete. Steel and wood work is typical, 2+2= 4. But concrete doesn’t equal 4. Concrete is yourself. No wait…I mean you get to express yourself. I don’t know how to express myself in words right now. I like it. I love pulling it off and making really nice blends.
What are you looking forward to in park building? Keep putting them everywhere! Building cool stuff that is fun.
Do you ever think about the impact that skateparks have in the communities? Yeah, I feed on it. I try to get to know the community. My favorite part of the whole experience is not riding it myself, but watching how other people interpret it and grow into it. Like in New Castle, kids were scared of the hole. We skated with them and one by one all the kids were doing it. It was pure JOY.
Ben and crew building the New Castle, Indiana skatepark.