A Guide to Choosing Outdoor Government Facility Furnishings

A guide to choosing outdoor government facility furnishings

| Jul 13, 2022

Outdoor furniture for your government facility improves your space’s functionality and appearance. Durable, long-lasting furniture and accessories benefit your visitors and employees alike, and you have many options to choose from. Discover what will suit your space with this guide to choosing outdoor government facility furnishings.

The Benefits of Outdoor Furniture for Your Government Facility

Installing outdoor furniture for your government facility provides many aesthetic and functional benefits for both your visitors and employees. 

Maximize Your Facility’s Space

Your government building may have indoor areas to sit, relax or eat, but if you have ample outdoor space — or even just a section of sidewalk — you should extend your amenities to that area. You’ll gain extra practical square footage without having to expand your building.

Increase Community Engagement

Including outdoor furnishings and site amenities around your government facility encourages visitors and guests to relax and enjoy the outdoors together. Most people in the community will have to visit your government facility at some point, and even if they don’t, an attractive outdoor area can encourage them to visit. 

Seating areas, picnic tables and gathering spaces foster a greater sense of well-being and community. People can sit together, share a meal or just take a break, whether they’re specifically visiting your facility or are in the area.

Maintain Cleanliness

A simple way to keep the space clean is to make sure there are receptacles that are easy to see and get to

When you install amenities such as ashtrays, trash receptacles and recycling receptacles, people are more likely to prioritize keeping the space clean. There shouldn’t be cigarette butts and trash cluttering your facility’s area. A simple way to keep the space clean is to make sure there are receptacles that are easy to see and get to. These amenities will make cleaning easier for your maintenance crews, as well.

Add Parking Capacity

Install bike racks to make your facility more accessible. Up to 20 bicycles can be parked in the same amount of space as one car, depending on the bike rack style you install and how you install it. This adds to the capacity of the parking area and gives people who don’t have cars an easy way to visit the facility. Bikers will have peace of mind that their bikes are secure as they visit your facility, and you won’t have to worry about individuals locking up their bikes on other amenities, like benches.

Benefit Employees

The employees of the facility will likely benefit most from added outdoor furniture and amenities. They can enjoy their breaks outdoors in the fresh air, which can help reduce stress and feelings of anxiety. Using outdoor areas also gives people more space, as not everyone wants to spend their break in a cramped employee breakroom. 

Government Facilities That Need Outdoor Furniture

All kinds of government facilities can benefit from outdoor furniture. From places where the public gathers, like museums and parks, to more separate facilities like municipal offices and courthouses, all can be improved with outdoor site amenities. 

Regardless of the type of facility, all government areas have people who are coming and going, whether employees or members of the community. When you install outdoor furnishings, you are benefitting all those people. Examples of government facilities that could benefit from outdoor furnishings include:

  • Museums
  • Public parks
  • Municipal offices
  • Courthouses
  • Assisted living facilities
  • City halls
  • Law enforcement centers
  • Post offices
  • Embassies

Determine What Furniture You Need

Figure out the purpose of adding furniture and amenities

To gain the benefits of outdoor furnishings for your facilities, determine what type of furniture your space needs. Do you need gathering areas, waiting areas or eating areas? Do you need attractive, eye-catching amenities or more comfortable and practical outdoor furniture? Think about what will work best for your facility and the people who use it. Different elements will be necessary for different facilities.

It’s always important to figure out the purpose of adding furniture and amenities. Once you determine this, you’ll be able to prioritize the most important elements to install. This can save you time and money on your project. 

Outdoor Benches

All types of facilities should have outdoor benches to allow people to relax outdoors. People need somewhere to sit, whether they are waiting for someone, waiting for an appointment or simply tired. Outdoor benches can also add aesthetic value to the area and make it seem more inviting.

Make sure to have enough seating for the people who visit the facility. You can choose to place many benches or larger ones that accommodate more people. If your facility sees groups of people visit, like families coming to a park or museum, a larger bench will seem more welcoming. If you’re furnishing a courthouse or an embassy, 4-foot benches may be a smarter choice to welcome individuals. Be sure to also consider what bench material fits your space best.

Picnic Tables

Dining sets and picnic tables encourage people to gather and spend time together. They give visitors and employees a place to share meals together and get some fresh air. Adding dining areas to the outdoors also provides more space for people who are looking for somewhere quieter or less cramped. They may spread out to do work and appreciate the surfaces these tables provide.

Commercial Umbrellas

Commercial umbrellas and other shade structures are important in protecting your guests and employees from the sun.  Umbrellas can easily shade eating areas by being installed in a dining set or placed freestanding to provide extra shade to another area. You can also purchase benches and tables that already have shade structures. Shade will make your facility’s outdoor area even more comfortable and inviting, letting employees and visitors enjoy the amenities you’ve installed even if it’s a bright, sunny day.

Trash Receptacles

trash receptacles, recycling receptacles and ash urns keep your facility clean

Trash receptacles, recycling receptacles and ash urns are important in keeping your facility clean. Without such amenities, people may simply throw their trash and cigarette butts on the ground. This is not the image you want your government facility to have — it should be clean and set an example for the surrounding areas. Place trash receptacles in easy-to-see areas and remember to have them emptied often. Consider adding lids to your receptacles to keep trash in place and hidden from sight, enhancing your outdoor area’s aesthetics further.

Bike Racks

Bike racks can increase your parking capacity and make your facility more accessible. Not everyone has a car they can drive. On top of that, installing bike loop racks allow your employees to bike to work. This encourages them to stay active and be healthier, which can be especially enticing for employees who must sit most of the day during their jobs. Installing bike racks also portrays your facility’s mission to benefit the environment by reducing car usage. 

Planters

If your outdoor area is mostly concrete, stone or lacking greenery, planters are a perfect addition. You can add exotic trees, pops of color or other plants that make the space more natural and green. Greenery and scenes of nature can help reduce the stress of your visitors and employees. Planters add intrigue to outdoor areas, especially in urban areas where landscaping would’ve been a challenge.

Other Outdoor Amenities

Tree grates, grills and hand sanitizing stations are other elements that could benefit your government facility. Tree grates go over roots so people won’t trip on them or cause damage to the tree. Grills are perfect for gathering spaces and encouraging people to spend time in an area, like a public park. Place hand sanitizer stations outside your facility’s entrance to encourage people to stay safe and reduce the spread of germs.

Determine the Best Materials

You should consider weather resistance and durability, maintenance requirements and appearance

Next, you’ll need to determine what material the furniture and accessories should be for your government facility. Different materials will have different pros and cons. You should consider weather resistance and durability, maintenance requirements and appearance. Since you’ve already determined the purpose of your outdoor government furnishings, it won’t take much more to decide which materials to choose. 

Metal

Metal can be an attractive and durable option. It can be shaped in a variety of styles to fit many different aesthetics. It’s very weather resistant and often requires less maintenance than wood. Metal amenities can also be powder-coated or coated with plastisol, giving them adding durability and customization options. Metal amenities can be aluminum, steel or iron, which affects their weight and durability.

Wood

Wood amenities are beautiful and natural-looking additions but often require regular maintenance. They can be more susceptible to weather damage, but you can select weatherproofed options. Wooden benches and other furnishings add texture, coming in designs from modern to classic.

Plastic

Outdoor furniture and amenities can also be made out of recycled plastic, which your facilities can mention as a part of its sustainability efforts. These furnishing options come in many different styles and color options and are even able to look like wood. Plastic furnishings are durable and won’t splinter or rot like wood. Note that, due to plastic outdoor furniture’s lighter weight, it should be fixed to the ground. 

Determine Your Budget

determine your budget and consider low-maintenance options

Most government facilities will have a limited budget, so you’ll have to plan carefully. You may also need to complete your project in stages, starting with the most important amenities.

Think about your ongoing budget, as well, and consider low-maintenance options to save money on cleaning and repairs over time. Choose pieces that are designed to prevent warping, rotting and other damage to get more out of your investment. Keep in mind that you’ll need outdoor maintenance staff to empty receptacles and clean surfaces, accessories and furniture. 

Find the Right Provider

The outdoor furnishings provider you choose can make a big difference in your results. Some companies, such as Wabash Valley Site Furnishings, specialize in high-quality, weather-resistant and low-maintenance elements that will serve you well for a long time. It’s also important to find a provider with a wide selection to choose from so you can find the perfect products for your specific space. Some providers may also offer bulk pricing for large orders.

You’ll also want to find a provider that can install everything professionally. This gives you a start-to-finish solution for your outdoor furniture needs. 

Make a Plan

The proper layout of a space is just as important as the elements you choose to install. The way you design the area will depend on the shape and terrain of the space. There are likely existing paths and structures to work around, so you’ll need to consider many factors. 

First, determine where the larger spaces will be, such as eating areas or large gathering spaces. Picnic tables or dining sets will be placed in these areas. Then, plan the walkways. Benches should be spaced out along the walkway or just a short distance away from the walkway if they are facing a nice view, monument or other eye-catching feature. Trash receptacles will also need to be placed sporadically throughout the design. 

Determine the most important elements or spaces and plan around them, especially if you have a tight budget. Build in phases if necessary, but be sure to have a complete plan in mind before purchasing and installing separate components.

Install Your Outdoor Government Furniture

Once you determine the furniture you want and where you want to put it, you still need to determine how it will be installed. Some amenities will have multiple mounting options, but in general, you can choose from:

  • In-ground mount: Furniture mounted in-ground will be immovable and sturdy. They have a long piece of material buried into the ground and secured in place.
  • Surface mount: Surface-mounted amenities install on the top of a concrete slab. This makes them easier to install than in-ground options but requires mounting hardware.
  • Portable: Portable furnishings are movable as long as they are light enough. Heavy but portable amenities can be a good option if you don’t want guests moving them but may want to relocate them in the future. 

Choose a provider like Wabash Valley Furnishings that provides hassle-free installation by experienced and licensed site amenity professionals to make this process easier. You can also discuss your project specs with us for advice on which mounting style will suit your needs, as well as furnishing suggestions based on your facility.

Inspiration: Museums

Attract people to the museum with bright colors and educational plaques on attractive benches

Museums spark interest, creativity and wonder, so it’s important your outdoor amenities can do the same. Attract people to the museum with bright colors and educational plaques on attractive benches. 

Bright Colors

Brightly colored benches and tables can bring the space to life and make it look more inviting. Museums often have eye-catching features to attract an audience, so their outdoor furniture should be no different. Choose amenities with bright colors that stand out from their surroundings and draw people in, especially if your facility caters to families or kids.

Memorial Benches

Museums exist to educate and inform and are usually filled with plaques that share more information with their readers. Memorial benches have a spot to include names, dates or other information. You can dedicate them to a specific person or simply share facts relevant to the topic of the museum. These benches also give people a place to relax before or after visiting the facility.

Inspiration: Parks

Great public parks have attractive and practical amenities that make spending time outdoors easy and enjoyable. Parks should have most of the elements listed above, but also natural elements, grills and additional shade. 

Natural Elements

Wood-look amenities made from recycled plastic are an eco-friendly option

Many people go to parks to enjoy nature and get away from the loud city or busy neighborhood. Parks should be full of greenery, trees and natural-looking amenities. Wooden amenities fit into a park environment well and contribute to the natural look. Wood-look amenities made from recycled plastic are another more eco-friendly option. Planters are also helpful for adding exotic and colorful plants to places that may not be able to support other greenery, like park entrances or parking areas.

Grills

Parks are great places for community members to gather and share a meal together. Picnic tables and shaded pavilions are perfect for this, but adding grills takes it to the next level. People will be able to enjoy the space longer and actually cook their food at the park, rather than having to bring it. Learn more about choosing a grill for your park to pick the best fuel type and other factors.

Shade Structures

People go to parks to spend time outside, but long exposure to the sun’s UV rays can be damaging. There should be plenty of shade all around the park. Trees can be a great source of shade, but it may not always be enough. Place commercial umbrellas and shaded benches and tables around the park so people can seek respite from the sun.

Inspiration: Courthouses

Courthouses are important facilities that most people need to visit at least once in their life. These facilities should be easily accessible and designed to minimize some of the stress visitors may feel. 

Bike Racks

Providing bike racks allows more people to get to the facility and secure their bikes

Courthouses should be accessible to everyone in the community. In addition to regular parking, bike racks are an important addition. Providing bike racks allows more people to get to the facility and secure their bikes without having to worry. 

Planters

Courthouses can be overwhelming environments for many people. Designing the outdoor area with plenty of greenery can help relieve some of the stress visitors may feel. Planters are versatile and convenient ways to add greenery outside your facility, especially if it’s in a developed area where landscaping would otherwise be difficult. 

Inspiration: Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living facilities should be interesting and comfortable. In addition to plenty of benches and places to sit and rest, these facilities could include features like game tables, swings and dining sets.

Game Tables

People in assisted living facilities need plenty of activities to keep their minds active and engaged. Providing game tables is a great way to encourage people to sit and play a round of checkers or chess together. People can spend more time outside with these fun and ADA-accessible amenities. 

Swings

Park bench swings are comfortable and relaxing elements that can improve your facility’s outdoor area. Visitors and residents alike can enjoy the outdoors while slowly swinging and relaxing. Swinging benches are a unique element that encourages residents to stay active since they need to move their legs to keep them swinging. 

Dining Sets

Installing dining sets encourages people to socialize, share a meal or simply enjoy each other’s company. ADA-accessible tables can even accommodate people using wheelchairs. With ample outdoor seating, you’ll give your facility’s patients, employees and visitors places to relax and spend time together.

Choose the Right Furniture for Your Government Facility

Choosing the right amenities for your government facility is easy when you work with Wabash Valley Site Furnishings. Our experienced team has worked with design teams and landscape architects to provide site amenities and furnishings for a wide range of projects, and we will work with you to create a bulk order that fits your specifications, design and budget. We can also help you meet General Services Administration (GSA) standards with GSA contracts available on different items for Federal Government and Agency Accounts.

With decades of experience, we’ll help you reach your facility goals and enhance the space. Browse our products to build a specific quote for your project. 

Choose the right furniture for your government facility