Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Current Research in Areas and Facilities

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

Current Research in Areas and Facilities

Article excerpt

This review of the research on areas and facilities from 1988 to the present summarizes a doctoral dissertation and research articles from the Journal of Park and Recreation Administration. Although the current research has been highly diverse in focus, the studies add to an understanding of how best to plan and design parks and other recreation areas and facilities.

Expected Spatial Relationships

The doctoral dissertation on expected spatial relationships was completed at Texas A&M University by HongKyu Kim (1989). The purpose of the study was to examine the expected spatial relationships between recreational facilities in community parks by comparing the views of professionals with those of the general public. Professionals included architects, landscape architects and park and recreation administrators. More than half of the respondents reported that spatial distance between recreational facilities in urban community parks was important. One third of the respondents indicated being dissatisfied with the existing spatial arrangement they found in urban parks.

Professionals tended to prefer inclusion of certain facilities when planning urban recreation areas, e.g., ponds, swimming pools, running trails, softball fields and indoor recreation centers. Among these, running trails, swimming pools and softball fields each had a moderately high correlation between frequency of use by the general public and the degree of preference for the facility by professionals. The study identified three shells of spatial arrangement, i.e., the center shell containing open space, pond and picnic area; a supporting shell around the center shell containing restrooms and indoor recreation areas; and a shell along the boundaries of the park which contains active sports facilities.

Park Planning Process

The park planning and design process is complex and involves the work and input of many types of planning and design professionals, citizen board members, and the general public. Winchell (1991) examined the complexities of the process, especially the often neglected component which he referred to as the "design context, design concepts study." Winchell contends that parks designed "out of context" fail to be meaningful in providing recreation experiences.

Winchell describes a seven-step park planning process: identify the need for a park; select and acquire the park site; conduct a design context, design concepts study; prepare a facility design and site plan; locate funding sources and prepare a budget for park development; construct the park; and operate the facility. The design context, design concepts study is explained as a four-phase research effort involving data gathering (two phases), data analysis, and generation of design concept drawings. Winchell concluded that these steps are important because they offer greater information for planners, greater opportunity for citizen parricipation and a more effective park design.

Design of a Softball Complex

When managing facilities, it is necessary to determine if user needs and interests are being met. Little research has been done on evaluating the physical design of existing sports and recreation facilities.

Bartlett and Einert (1992) adapted the marketing-based Importance-Performance Analysis (IPA) tool to obtain input from the users of a softball complex. The analysis measured 30 physical features of the softball complex for importance and performance. After plotting the measures of importance and performance on an IPA four-quadrant grid format, it was found that 23 of the 30 design features fell into the "keep up the good work" quadrant, including such aspects as night lighting for fields and backstop fencing. Three design features usually emphasized by park planners fell into the "low priority" quadrant-orientation of the diamonds with the sun, landscaping and aesthetics. Survey respondents felt that designers should concentrate on the design attributes of night lighting for sidewalks, surface water drainage of the diamonds, comfort of the stands and warm up areas. …

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