Feature Article - October 2019
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Great Escapes

Provide Respite & Relaxation With Shelters & Shade Structures

By Deborah Vence


The Right Fit

To help determine which types of shelters and shade structures are best for your location, "Customers should determine their objective in providing shade: Should it just be functional and at lowest possible cost, and with a design that does not attract attention? Or should it make a unique statement at the site and create a distinctive focal point?" Bayman asked.

"Generally," he said, "the more of a statement one wants to make, the higher the price, so establishing a realistic budget based on options early on is important."

Graves suggested to "First, ask what the purpose of your structure is, how much space you have, and what budget you'd like to stay within. Each shelter is designed to complement the surrounding environment. Our in-house design team will create drawings and budget pricing by partnering with the client to realize their vision. Our engineers will determine the appropriate loads (snow, wind, seismic), calculations and foundations and stamp the drawings for your specific area."

She said that shelters and shade structures vary greatly, in both use and design.

"With our simplified process, creating the perfect structure will save the customer both time and money. We are constantly evaluating new products that can be incorporated into your design," she said.

"As the shade and shelter market grows and expands," Curtis added, "the best advice is to get a local dealer/rep involved in helping to explore different designs, styles and options available. The dealer will have a direct connection and support from the manufacturer of the units. They can share images of the future build site and an overview of the project's concept and desired outcome."

In addition, they'll gather site information that needs to be considered—everything from buried utilities and drainage to use zones for playgrounds and clearance requirements. "This information will help to ensure that the design of the structure will work for the space that is available."

Moore said that determining the best shade structure or shelter for your location is based on a few questions:

>> Is its main function to protect visitors and/or amenities from the elements?

>> Does it fit the theme or culture of the designed area?

>> Will it be the showpiece of your park or focal point of the design theme?

"The answer," he said, "may be simple or complex; it may be one or all three of these determining factors."

Lubbers noted that "There are a lot of considerations that can influence the design of a public space and the elements that will define that space. Someone has to have a vision of what that space is going to be, how it will be used and what benefit it will bring to the community. That's a start. The design of the elements can reflect the surrounding infrastructure or complement a natural setting. A shelter can be a center point that draws people into its space, or exist in harmony with other elements in an overall design that defines a larger space.

"How tired is the concept 'form follows function'? Some shade structures are minimalist with clean lines and no extras. Others are highly decorative or designed in a specific architectural motif," he added. "But the function can be the same for either. That said, you won't likely find an ornate gazebo at a rustic trailhead, or a heavy, wood beam picnic shelter in an urban courtyard setting.

"Then there's budget," he added. "We eventually come to that. But shelter manufacturers are capable of value-engineering any shelter to meet the original design intent, while staying within the budget requirements for the project."

Ultimately, when you add shade structures and shelters to outdoor spaces, you are enhancing "the overall experience of the facility for the people who gather to utilize the venue," Curtis concluded. RM