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Site Furnishings

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Site furnishings include items such as outdoor furniture, bicycle racks, landscape planters, and trash receptacles.  They are commonly installed in and around municipal, commercial, and institutional buildings, in accordance with ADA requirements, to facilitate the utilitarian needs of pedestrians.  Aside from being functional, site furnishings can make a positive contribution to the overall appearance of a building if they are well designed and incorporated into the plan from an early stage.

Outdoor furniture for commercial applications is a durable manufactured product that is reasonably comfortable and resistant to vandalism and the elements.  Available in many shapes and styles, outdoor furniture can be selected to complement the aesthetics of any interior or exterior space.  Outdoor furniture includes benches, tables and chairs.  Benches are surface mounted or free standing, with or without back rests.  Arm rests, depending on the style of bench, are at either end or equally spaced along the length. Integral planters can also be incorporated, particularly in precast concrete benches, at either end of a bench.  Tables and chairs are commonly constructed as one unit with a structural frame, which is surface mounted or embedded below grade in concrete.  Types of tables and chairs include pedestal, picnic and game tables.  Pedestal tables may include chair or bench seating for two (2) or more people.  Picnic tables commonly have two benches on either side of a table top, with enough seating for four (4) or more people.  Game tables, typically, are smaller tables, with a metal game board attached to the surface, and they include seating for two (2) on either side of the board.  Outdoor furniture can be manufactured from precast concrete, powder coated metal, cast iron, stainless steel, aluminum, polyethylene, wood or recycled plastics.

Secure bicycle parking is accomplished using either lockers or racks.  Bicycle lockers allow a single bike to be parked and secured in an enclosed space with a lockable door.  They are considered the highest standard of security in bicycle parking, protecting a bicycle against theft, weather and damage.  Bicycle racks are stationary fixtures used by cyclists to both park and secure their bicycle. Bicycle racks and lockers can be categorized as either long, medium or short term bicycle parking.  Secure long term, or Class I, bicycle parking is accomplished with enclosed lockers, monitored facilities and restricted access facilities.  Medium term, or Class II, parking is achieved by using a stationary object where both the frame and wheels of a bike can be secured.  Short term parking, or Class III, should be visible at all times by the bicycle owner and allow the frame or wheels to be secured.

Several different styles of bike racks are available.  U racks are a vertical inverted 'U' shape; they are surface mounted at the base and able to accommodate two (2) bicycles.  Wave or serpentine racks are similar to a U rack shape, with greater horizontal length of continuous 'U' turns or loops from end to end.  They are surface mounted at the bases located at each end, and, if necessary, at a base in the middle of the rack.  Wave or serpentine racks are able to accommodate more than two (2) bicycles, and, depending on the manufacturer and their product, wave racks may hold up to twenty (20) or more bicycles.  Bollard style racks are dual-purpose fixtures that are used as safety or traffic barriers and have connection locations on either side that can accommodate two (2) bicycles.  They have the typical vertical, cylindrical shape and come in a variety of post diameters.  Grid style racks are traditional bicycle racks with vertical slots that hold the front tire.  Similar to the wave rack, grid style racks may hold up to twenty (20) or more bicycles. There are many additional styles that exist among manufacturers which offer innovative and decorative alternatives.  Bicycle racks are constructed from a variety of materials, with different finishes, including galvanized steel, powder-coated metal, cast iron, recycled plastic and stainless steel.

Landscape planters are stand alone fixtures that contain an arrangement of growing flowers, bushes or trees.  Depending on the product, planters are heavy enough to act as a safety or traffic barrier when used between vehicular and pedestrian travel paths.  Otherwise, planters are used to visually enhance an exterior space, since they come in any number of available sizes, colors and styles that compliment other site furnishings.  Planters can be manufactured from precast concrete, powder coated metal, cast iron, stainless steel, aluminum, polyethylene, wood, fiberglass or recycled plastics.  Depending on the material used to manufacture the planter, a liner is commonly placed inside the exterior structural frame, which contains the soil and plant.

Trash receptacles are used to temporarily store trash, recyclables, or ash, and encourage pedestrians to avoid littering.  Typically they are either mounted to a floor or are heavy enough to discourage tipping and theft. Trash receptacles must be safely located outside of pedestrian traffic along paths of travel near building entries, public parks, courtyards and food courts.  Proper size and receptacle spacing should be determined to alleviate overflow. Available in a wide variety of colors and styles that compliment other site furnishings, trash receptacles are manufactured in three basic types: open, semi-open and hinged door top types. Each offers its own advantages/disadvantages, which should be considered depending on the intended use or application.  Open top type receptacles are easy to use and empty; however, they are open to the elements and insects, which may allow for infestations or collection of snow and water.  Semi-open top type receptacles have hinged tops with a trash opening.  They are protected from the weather, but open to insects, and trash size is limited by the opening.  Hinged door type receptacles are similar to semi-open receptacles with a hinged door at the trash opening.  The hinged door and top protects the container from the elements and insects, but may be difficult for a handicapped individual to operate, and trash size is limited by the opening.  These three basic types can be manufactured from precast concrete, powder coated metal, stainless steel, cast iron, aluminum, acrylic, polyethylene, fiberglass, wood or recycled plastics.

Site furnishings are available from many manufacturers who offer attractive product lines that are consistent amongst the aforementioned products.  Custom fabrications of outdoor furniture, bicycle racks, landscape planters, and trash receptacles, in addition to signage, are also available for specific uses and applications.

Last modified on Mon, Mar 22, 2010
Buildipedia Staff

The Buildipedia research and writing staff consists of dozens of experienced professionals from many sectors of the industry, including architects, designers, contractors, and engineers.


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