Feature Article - November 2006
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Special Supplement: Problem-Solver Guidebook

By Stacy St. Clair and Emily Tipping

Finding the Right Buildings for a Multi-Use Park

Public parks play many roles. A neighborhood park might accommodate kids' playground activities most of the week, but on weekends serve as the setting for larger community gatherings. A soccer facility sees only occasional small crowds for summer league play, but is packed with fans when the high school season rolls around.

The buildings constructed in parks should be equally adaptable. The right facility for a multi-use park is one that can fill various needs as park uses change from season to season.

Q: We are looking to put several buildings in our parks around the city, but we don't have a lot of time or a huge budget. What's our best option?

A: Pre-engineered facilities can provide more flexibility. The building's manufacturer can provide help with the design, and a variety of materials and features are available to tailor the building to your particular parks' needs. A manufacturer that specializes in the parks and recreation field can help you more easily control costs and construction schedules.

Q: We're looking to install a restroom structure in our park, which sees fluctuating usage depending on time of year and for special events. How big should the restroom building be?

A: Good question. Do you plan for average daily use or for the really busy days? Restroom design firms can help you calculate the number of stalls or individual "single-user" rooms required for average usage. For really big events, these same companies will often recommend, from a cost-benefit standpoint, that the permanent building be designed for average usage and that portable toilets be brought in to handle bigger crowds for special events.

Q: What if we need to include showers, dressing rooms and concession space?

A: Building manufacturers can provide guidelines for sizing these spaces and equipping them to meet accessibility and health department requirements. Sizing a concession space can be tricky. If the plan is to sell only packaged foods from a concession window, then a small, simple space is needed. If cooking and other food preparation is involved, the size and equipment required in the concession space will be greater. Again, building manufacturers can make recommendations to match your needs and ensure that health department requirements are met.

Q: We want to go beyond the basic restroom building to also provide park patrons with a place to picnic and get out of the sun. Can we get all that in a pre-engineered building?

A: Roof extensions for shelter and shade are relatively easy additions to park buildings. The roof structure can be extended just a few feet over doorways or to cover a larger gathering space. Durable and attractive materials add to the building's appearance and functionality. Pre-engineering by the building manufacturer ensures structural stability, even for the highest wind, snow and earthquake loads.

Q: We need to incorporate plumbing and electrical into our building. How do we determine the best place in the park to locate the structure?

A: The location of a park building is often determined by the availability of utilities—power, water, sewer, communications—and the ability of maintenance vehicles to access the site. For these reasons, as well as park security and construction cost efficiency, park planners often use space inside the buildings to house equipment such as lighting and irrigation controls and for storage of park maintenance equipment and supplies. The building manufacturer can make recommendations for storage/mechanical room size, door configurations and design of plumbing, electrical and mechanical systems.

Q: How can we ensure that the buildings we install today will still be functional many years down the road?

A: Park buildings are large investments that must provide many years of dependable service. Park managers who choose to invest in multi-function buildings often do so because they realize that future uses of a particular park may be quite different from current uses. Having buildings that are adaptable to many demands helps ensure that the needs of tomorrow can be met with the facilities built today.


   Romtec, Inc.: 541-496-3541   

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