Feature Article - September 2015
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Make A Statement!

Shelters, Shade Structures Go Above and Beyond

By Deborah L. Vence

Lakefront Park
Kissimmee, Fla.

In Kissimmee, Fla., city officials hired a Holland, Mich.-based company that specializes in the engineering and manufacturing of shade coverings, to help showcase both their cultural and historical heritage to the community through the use of structures at Lakefront Park along Lake Tohopekaliga.

Today's public spaces offer more than a leisurely resting place. They are often the center of activity, and today's shelters are more active than their static forerunners.

This particular area had a strong Native American influence and was instrumental in the development of agricultural trade at the turn of the century.

In this case, the old homes (owned by captains of paddlewheel boats, land barons and wealthy cattlemen) had metal roofs, and the use of wood and brick were commonplace in both business and residential structures. White was a predominant color of buildings and in some later years, ceiling fans became common amenities to structures, according to information from the shade manufacturer.

Each shelter is treated equally and with high attention to detail, whether it is a small square or a large custom structure.

After the client saw the first series of structures installed they decided to add more. What originally started as eight to 10 buildings has grown to 20-plus buildings to date. Two large multi-gable structures are the centerpiece of the park. The first houses restrooms and concessions while the other was designed with a fireplace in the middle. Both are capable of housing large events. The walkways are covered with gable roof shelters and incorporate louvers to help with air flow. A large trellis also creates a beautiful backdrop for weddings.

And, the project has been a success, with the attention to detail and making the structures the focal points of the park.

Each shelter is treated equally and with high attention to detail, whether it is a small square or a large custom structure.

"The shade structures that we have are beautiful, incorporating many building materials from the early 1900s such as wood tongue-and-groove ceilings, brick columns and metal roofs. We also placed ceiling fans in the structures," said Dan Loubier, director, city of Kissimmee, Parks, Recreation & Public Facilities Department. "These were the type of materials used for construction in Kissimmee, Fla., at the turn of the century. So, one improvement has been the aesthetic value and historical significance. Of course the real value is the availability of several shelters for our park users."

He said when the city reconstructed Lakefront Park, 15 new shelters were added to the park alone.

"Our shelters are very popular in Kissimmee at all parks so we knew that the structures we built at the Lakefront would be very popular and they are. We were taking care of the needs of our residents and visitors by constructing the new shelters. The entire park was reconstructed so all of the old structures/shelters were removed and new shelters were built," Loubier said.

In many cases the shelters in Kissimmee are rented out more than one year in advance.

"The public's response has been fantastic and they are heavily used. We rent these shelters so we have also shown an increase in our overall revenue for rentals of the shelters," he said. "We have had no complaints about the cost and the public loves the shelters as evidenced by the fact that they are rented far in advance."