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Guest Column - September 2014

Park Structures

All Together Now
How to Achieve a Unique, Impressive Community Gathering Place


Most parks have a common goal, to bring their community together. They are designed as a place to gather and a place to have fun. But what if you want to make your site more unique and impressive? How do you draw in a large crowd? How do you revamp a park that is losing appeal? What if you want to generate revenue back?

One structure can answer all of these questions and redefine how a park is used and recognized by your community – Amphitheaters.

Amphitheaters date back to the ancient Greeks and while the look has continuously evolved, their function remains the same. They are a stage for bands, plays, festivals, fairs, and special events; all of which will draw a crowd and bring people together for entertainment. They provide a visually interesting backdrop that will frame in a performance and create a central focal point. They can assist with acoustics and better project sound towards the audience. Amphitheaters provide necessary protection from the elements and can be enhanced by adding lighting and sound equipment. They can also be designed to have additional rooms added on or be attached to other structures.

Amphitheaters are as unique as your creativity allows and vary greatly in size and shape. There is no typical design, which makes them an eye-catching and impressive piece for your site. They can be small, fitting perfectly into a downtown city park drawing attention from passersby or a large focal centerpiece at the base of a hill allowing large seating areas for visitors to stay a while. Many different materials also can be used to better fit a structure into its surroundings. A steel design can be created for sleek lines and curves, wood will portray a more classic look, and fabrics are perfect for a more artistic and whimsical feel.

When deciding on a design that best fits your site, look to shade companies that can take your ideas and combine them with their experience to create the perfect fit. There are several different factors to consider when choosing the type of amphitheater that works best for your location. Evaluate the surroundings. Do you want the structure to blend in or stand out? Evaluate how it will be used. Does your community have programs that need large or small venues? Will this shelter need to be usable year round? All structures will be engineered for the weather in your area to ensure longevity and safety. Also, consider what steps are taken to protect the structure from the elements such as factory powder coating, factory wood staining and fabric warranties. Choose a company that is known for their quality and long lasting product.

Once the basic structure design has been chosen, other details can be added such as signage and ornamentation. By adding these to the gable of an amphitheater, you can identify a site sponsor or the name of your facility to promote further branding and site recognition. This can be done with a high performance laser cutter or additional graphics can be printed and displayed in the steel ornamentation. Other features that can be added include handrails, gutters, column wraps/covers, lightning protection and windscreens. Amphitheaters also can be engineered to have additional structures added on, including changing rooms, restrooms, or storage space. Many frame colors and roof options are also available to choose from.

If you are looking to create a high-end look to your park, consider creating a total park package. Coordinate additional shelters, trellises, and signs to complement your new amphitheater and draw visitors toward it. Use similar details, colors or shapes to pull each structure together. Design elements can be incorporated into each structure to display unique detail and create architectural conversation when visitors notice the small details that were considered. A common theme throughout a park gives strong visual interest and will attract lots of attention.

Amphitheaters go beyond just bringing your community together; they can also give back to the community. Because of their ability to host ongoing entertainment and large audiences, they are the perfect place to host events for fundraising and charities. Money also can be brought in for park maintenance or other projects by charging rental and admission fees for events and facility usage. Amphitheaters also create a platform for new talent. Whether it is a musical artist, a speaker, or a person looking to show off a talent, a stage gives them opportunity to showcase their abilities in hopes of reaching new heights and gaining recognition. Amphitheaters can offer a high return on investment, not just financially, but also in building a community.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This article was provided by the team at Poligon, a leader in the design, engineering and manufacturing of shade structures for applications in steel, fabric and wood. For more information, visit www.poligon.com.