Red Bull and Gerber Group Bring Skateboarders Uptown for Thrashin' Week

By Anna Sekula September 13, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

Photo: Justin Namon/World Red Eye

Apparently, building a temporary sports venue at a high-end property is the latest marketing concept to gain momentum. Last winter, the W New York Downtown and the Standard hotel built on-site ice-skating rinks, and this season, the Time Warner Center's upscale Stone Rose Lounge played host to a 30-foot skateboarding ramp. The last was a four-day venture between the nightlife spot's operator the Gerber Group and Red Bull, designed to bring downtown culture uptown. Its name, Thrashin' Week, was a tongue-in-cheek play on Fashion Week taking place a few blocks away.

“Any venue in New York City, especially any high-end venue, is trying to get the exclusive after-party or get the models in, and really, it's been done. What we really wanted to do was take a completely different approach—be really inclusive and invite the community,” said Raphael Chejade-Bloom, director of marketing and entertainment at the Gerber Group. The concept—which debuted Wednesday with the premiere party for extreme-snowboarding documentary The Art of Flight, and ended Saturday—brought in skate clinics for kids during the day and musical performances for the adults at night.

“If it were easy [to build a ramp inside a bar], then I think everyone would do it. And, not to sound cliché, but that's really the fact of the matter. A half-pipe mini ramp is not a new idea. Our space, our location, our traditional demographic—that's really the novelty of the project,” Chejade-Bloom said.

What did make the project easier was the support of the building's developers, the Related Companies, and a ramp fabricated by New York Design and Construction, the same company that built ramps for Red Bull's skateboarding competition series Manny Mania.

“Unlike some, the Related Companies is very understanding of action-sports culture,” said Ed Pollio, owner of New York Design and Construction. “Their head of security took the time to walk us through the entire building and showed us the quickest possible route to load all our equipment and materials.” Pollio added that the real estate developer also allowed his crew access to start load-in at 1 a.m. Wednesday.

The ramp, designed by Red Bull, was an impressive sight, set against the bar's Columbus Circle-facing windows amid marble floors, high ceilings, and modern furnishings. Naturally, New York Design and Construction took steps to protect the flooring and ensure the safety of the skateboarders. Brown paper, Masonite, and carpet were laid down to prevent damage to the flooring, the ramp was enclosed with netting to stop wayward skaters and their boards from flying into the furniture, and decks with railings were built on either side of the half-pipe to give participants a safe area to stand.

As quickly as the ramp for Thrashin' Week had gone up, it came down, dissembled to make way for The Daily's Fashion Week lounge on Sunday.

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