Problem Solver - August 2008
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Unifying the City's Image with Park Structures

City and park planners know that recreational areas have the power to draw people together, but savvy planner also know that carefully designed parks also can draw together the aesthetic of the community, creating a sense of place. We've all been to cities and parks where planners "get" this concept. Those are the places where the architecture of the downtown buildings, from the city hall down to the local parks' shelters and kiosks, provide a cohesive, unified look.

Q: How can I find park shelters and structures that will fit in with the city's image?

A: Modern manufacturers of steel-framed gazebos, shelters, pergolas, trellises and other structures offer hundreds of designs in many different shapes.

In addition to these many shapes and sizes in styles both contemporary and classic, you can also select from a virtual rainbow of colors. These many options mean all you need to do is figure out your city's "look," and then consult with the manufacturer who can help you choose shelters, structures and other amenities to complement your overall aesthetic.

Q: How can shelters work to help establish a sense of place and reinforce the city's image?

A: If your town doesn't have a cohesive feel already, you can turn to shelters and park structures to help establish an aesthetic or even develop a theme. You don't have to stop with the available structures pictured in the manufacturers' catalogs. Many are more than willing to produce customized shelters, adding ornamentation or different shapes and images to create a theme or add an imaginative flair.

For example, if your park is in a coastal community, you might consider adding customized decorative railings with images of marine animals. Or if your community features many beautiful gardens, you could consider shelters with decorative trellises, then provide beautiful landscaping around the shelters to create gardens in the park.

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