Feature Article - October 2019
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Great Escapes

Provide Respite & Relaxation With Shelters & Shade Structures

By Deborah Vence


Meanwhile, Moore said that basic models are still the most popular, but many parks and schools look for custom designs as well. "Themed structures, multipurpose areas and unique shelters that bring to life the areas aesthetics are very common for today's landscape architects," he explained. "Hip and gable roofed structures are still very nice for parks and picnic areas, while curved structures and amphitheaters are fitting the custom bill for themed parks. Fortunately, fabrication and curving technology are allowing us to evolve as the designs evolve."

"Shelter manufacturers typically have a line of standard shelters," Lubbers noted. "I call them 'Industry Standard Shelters' because every company produces a version of them, and they're all more-or-less alike.

"One of the more prevalent questions I hear is, 'Do you do custom work?' Many custom designs come from the design community that works to create public spaces, but not all shelter companies have the capability to produce them," he said. "Several years ago, we produced a curved pergola structure for Jersey City, N.J., that resembled the tiara on the statue of liberty. That type of work requires people with specialized abilities.

"As with any form of building design, shelters have changed a lot over the years," he said, noting an example of the bandshell at Campbell Park in Huron, S.D., which likely was built in the early part of the 20th century. The bandshell was constructed in cast concrete and covered with steel roofing. Another example he noted was a stage cover in the amphitheater at Civita Park in San Diego, which was designed by Schmidt Design Group in 2016.

In addition, information Lubbers provided from a presentation on shelters took a look at the current capabilities in shelter design, and compared pre-engineered to site-built shelters, and focused on the advantages of using a manufacturer that offers design and engineering services. Most shelter manufacturers offer variations of these common shelter types in an array of sizes and materials and a range of prices. Some of the style variations include octagon, hexagon, pentagon and square.

The presentation stated that "While more common, 'off-the-shelf' standard shelters fit the plan for most recreational settings, more innovative ideas have been introduced that are creating trends in park design—such as craftsman, multilevel, trail and retro-industrial designs."

Other cutting-edge designs include a pergola, which "is a garden structure with an open framed roof supported by regularly spaced columns. The definition has broadened to include any structure with a slatted, latticed or otherwise partially open roof, which also includes garden arbors. They started being produced by the pre-engineered steel shelter companies in the 1990s, and are available in steel or wood, or combinations of both. They can be fitted with fabric canopies to break the overhead sunlight."

More progressive or cutting-edge shelter designs include "living-roof shelters" that "combine a green roof product with a steel structure to create a cool and attractive shade space. An engineered roof fascia is designed to work with a modular green roof system."