April 2010 – Inver Grove Heights, MN – Don’t know what to do this spring? Why not check out one of the several area park shelters that bear the stamp of Krech, O’Brien, Mueller & Associates? Working alongside SRF Consulting, KOMA has brought their architectural and structural engineering services to seven park shelters in St. Louis Park and one in Moorhead.
In St. Louis Park, the prototype system KOMA developed has been met with rave reviews. Currently working on the seventh shelter in the past seven years, KOMA’s efforts have resulted in a consistent, cohesive aesthetic that is distinctly part of the City of St. Louis Park. Beginning with Oak Hill Park in 2003, and continuing with Nelson Park, Browndale Park, Aquilla Park, Fern Hill Park, Westwood Nature Center and now Birchwood Park, KOMA developed a palette of materials, colors and patterns which have helped create an overall identity for the city parks and community structures.
Stephen Iaria, AIA, project architect, said, “The St. Louis Park shelters have been enjoyable because the prototype approach has brought such consistency to the look and feel of the shelters while still allowing for flexibility due to specific neighborhood needs. For example, some of the shelters allow for neighborhood groups to have dedicated storage spaces for gardening equipment, which supports the city’s goal of encouraging community involvement with the parks.”
Iaria continued, “Most of these shelters serve several purposes. In many cases they serve as warming houses for winter skating, and community gathering places during the warmer months. Some have specific needs for concessions or offices. But even within all the various requirements implementing the prototype has worked remarkably well.”
Birchwood Park is currently in the pricing stage and should be completed by late autumn. Iaria commented that, “We did a walk-through of some of the other shelters we’d done, taking a close look at exactly how everything was working as well as what the actual costs were. In the case of Birchwood, we decided that we could save some money by making some relatively minor tweaks to the project. For example, we reworked the fireplace in a way that won’t significantly impact the overall aesthetic but that will still reduce construction costs.”
In the case of MB Johnson Park, the City of Moorhead wanted more usable outdoor space in combination with a flexible community room. The result is a structure that combines the benefits of a large, contained space with an attached shelter area ideal for picnics and gatherings.
Iaria said, “We looked at exactly what their needs were and made sure the structure would give them the flexibility and durability they needed while still setting them up with a ‘template’ for other park shelters in the city.”
Construction on the MB Johnson Park shelter is currently in process and is expected to be completed soon.