As the new school year gets under way, educational facilities welcome back students, faculty, families and visitors.
While these school buildings have seen many changes in the needs, requirements and recommendations for health, safety and security in recent years, some important elements remain the same.
Specifically, the site furnishings that add to the outdoor function and campus aesthetics continue to be necessary and even have grown in importance.
Below are considerations in furnishing educational properties with commercial-grade outdoor amenities.
Connecting with and exploring nature is a key piece of the learning experience. Table sets in a variety of sizes, shapes, heights and orientation create useful areas to bring education into the outdoors.
Facilitate small group discussions, create collaboration spaces, offer outdoor classrooms, and invite outdoor dining and lunch breaks with durable table sets and counters throughout the school grounds.
When it comes to selecting the best outdoor tables for commercial spaces, here are some of the top considerations to keep in mind:
- SIZE & CAPACITY
Finding the right table size will help you achieve capacity goals as well as safe and appropriate spacing. Common table top sizes include 24″, 30″, 40″, 48″, and 60″. Larger tables offer more capacity, while smaller units help to create an intimate setting. For additional variety, bar height tables and standing counters provide a space-saving solution. Regardless of table height or size, try to ensure a distance behind seat backs of 36″ for safe passage and wheelchair access.
Round, square or rectangle – how do you know which shape is best? Large round tables tend to take up more room but are actually more common for visual and functional purposes. They lend themselves to more flexibility in chair placement, provide more personal table space and can facilitate better conversation around the table. Smaller square and rectangle tables certainly have their place to create straight visual lines, save space and to coordinate with existing architecture.
- DURABILITY & MAINTENANCE
If you are planning tables for outdoor public spaces, then you need to ensure high durability to handle the wear and tear of daily usage, weather conditions and frequent cleanings. Powder coated steel is consistently the most durable option in outdoor table manufacturing.
Fully welded steel table sets will guarantee the strength, weight and solid construction to stay in place and weather any storm. Add to that a powder coat finish to maximize product durability. With its high-quality performance properties, resistance to fading, rust protection and gloss-like appearance, powder coating is a smart choice for outdoor seating and tables. The maintenance, care and disinfecting of powder coated steel tables is as simple as cleaning with soap and water.
No two outdoor spaces are the same, and every property has its own individual table needs and unique usage goals. Working with a company that has flexibility to custom manufacture tables means that you will not need to compromise to achieve your vision. Custom colors, sizes, shapes, materials, capacity, ADA accessibility, graphics, shade solutions and more can all be considered when designing your space.
In a school setting, benches are common at building entrances, inside the front lobby, at bus stops and loading areas or along campus trails. A bench can be a place for a parent to wait at pick up or for a student to sit and study. The color and design of the bench can be chosen to reflect school colors, showcase logos or coordinate with building architecture.
Benches can also be used as a way to honor donors and alumni through sponsorship and memorial solutions. An important thing to remember is to keep the furnishings consistent throughout the different areas of campus for a cohesive landscape design.
TRASH & RECYCLING SOLUTIONS
As with any public facility with large crowds and high-volume usage, appropriate trash receptacles are a must on school campuses to promote clean spaces and encourage proper litter disposal. Easily spotted, well-marked and frequently placed trash cans help to reduce campus littering.
Accompanying recycling receptacles support recycling or compost initiatives while also providing teaching opportunities for younger students to learn the importance of trash sorting. Building entrances, courtyards, parking lots, dining locations and near sports fields are common areas where trash disposal solutions are needed for waste management.
Make sure bicycle parking is readily available. Bike racks offer a place to safely store and lock bikes while students are in class. Depending on the volume of bikes expected, the bicycle racks can be a series of single units or a multi-capacity racking solution.
Safety and security are always of the utmost importance at school facilities, starting with the outdoor grounds and surrounding property. Protect building entrances and restrict access to vehicular traffic with bollards or strategically placed planters. These simple solutions offer discreet ways to block areas and protect students from traffic.
Playgrounds have their own unique needs. Buddy benches or friendship benches are a popular concept that offer children a way to meet and make friends on the playground. Kid-sized furnishings such as smaller tables and lower benches make a space customized and inviting to children.
In any case, powder coated steel products allow for vibrant colors to mimic the fun and whimsy of a playground setting.
While parents and students are busy checking off their back-to-school supply lists of pencils, erasers, binders and more, campus facility managers and school grounds departments need to constantly evaluate their property to make sure their site furniture supply list is up-to-date and fully checked off.
This information is courtesy of Keystone Ridge Designs, a leading designer and American manufacturer of commercial-grade site furnishings, www.keystoneridgedesigns.com.