Feature Article - October 2009
Find a printable version here

Under Cover

Shelters & Shade Structures

By Dawn Klingensmith

Beat the Budget

Once your purpose and intended application are set, then your budget will drive the selection process.

Among the quickest and least expensive solutions are cantilevered shades and portable, collapsible umbrellas, some of which can be repositioned during the day depending on where the sun is. The umbrellas typically detach from a sturdy base if storage is necessary. They generally are used to shade poolside chaises and tables in the concessions area, said Alan Bayman, president of an Ocala, Fla.-based shade systems manufacturer.

Due to cost and function, steel-supported, fabric-covered umbrellas that range from 8- to 40-foot diameters are popular choices for municipal facilities, Klug said.

"These are relatively easy to install, are colorful and relatively cost-effective," she explained.

Another advantage is that, for a nominal cost, facilities can install the base components during initial development with an eye toward adding more shade as funds become available, Klug added.

In fact, fabric shade structures in general are a good choice for retrofitting because structural interference is minimal.

Umbrellas and cantilevered shade structures can be put in place with relative ease over "hot spots" such as information centers, concession areas, lifeguard stations and bleachers. Other high-priority shade areas may require a greater investment of time and money. These include picnic areas, waiting areas (i.e., wherever lines form—outside restrooms, at entrances, at attractions, etc.), animal enclosures, spraygrounds and playgrounds.

In any case, wherever outside activities occur from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., there should definitely be shade available. Positioning is critical—the location, orientation, height and size of a shade structure must take into account the sun's changing angles throughout the day.

It is always desirable to use a combination of trees and fabricated shade structures wherever possible. Among fabricated options, each has its pros and cons.