Trends in Marina Design – Looking to 2012
Looking at Bellingham Marine’s many different projects across the globe, gives unique insight into the worldwide trends in marina design. The company’s clients are diverse and offer a great cross section of the industry – from commercial fishing facilities in Alaska’s remote reaches to the sophisticated super yacht facilities that dot the Caribbean.
A trend that continues to grow in direct correlation with increasing boat size is the general design and layout of the marina. Bigger boats require longer and wider berths, larger fairways and deeper basins. Many also want higher freeboard and wider walkways. Larger boats require more power and often more services. This trend is nothing new for the marina industry and continues to be the driving force behind many marina renovations.
In addition to the increase in average boat size, is the increase in mix of boats. More and more marinas are being asked to cater to a broader range of boaters, which encompasses everyone from kayakers to mega yacht owners. With growth in vessel diversity comes the need to offer a greater variety of moorage and water access options. Where once standard 16” to 20” freeboard was appropriate for all boats in the marina, marinas are now looking to incorporate into their facility low freeboard areas for kayakers, rowing clubs and junior sailing programs, “standard” freeboard for mid-sized boats, and extra high freeboard docks for larger vessels.
Another trend that’s on the rise is customization. Many marinas are looking to set themselves apart and create a unique experience for their tenants. Modern marina designs reflect playful use of architectural design and color that lead to a sophisticated and polished look.
Color is becoming one of the easiest and most popular ways for marinas to create a distinct look for their property. It is being used in a functional way to designate piers and length of stay as well as for design and aesthetic purposes. Some marinas are opting for color schemes that reflect their corporate colors while others prefer a single color that builds upon the design and overall look of the marina.
Many power pedestal manufacturers are starting to offer custom color options for marinas, and the same is true of manufacturers of pile caps and other fiberglass components.
Concrete is another place where marinas are incorporating color. Dark grays and charcoals seem to be popular with browns and natural hues also in demand. In the future, we are sure to see continued design creativity when it comes to concrete finishes. Its ability to be stamped, exposed, colored, and personalized combined with its superior performance characteristics for floating dock systems makes it the perfect material for marinas.
Lighting is another area where use of color is showing up. But in addition to color, many marinas are exploring new lighting design options. Use of LED lights is on the rise in the marina industry as in other industries. And like concrete, the inherent characteristics of LED lights make them a great choice for marinas. LEDs are being offered in pedestals, accent lights and other fixtures. Another lighting trend that we are sure to see increase in coming years is the use of recessed lights and underwater lighting (or lights along the waterline). These types of lights add to the beauty of the facility at night and are becoming an economical option for marinas looking to add something extra to their facility.
Another item on the customization list is entrances. Over the past 10 years there’s been a great increase in use of custom designed security gates. Now owners are starting to focus on the gangway. The standard all aluminum gangway is giving way to custom designed gangways. Worldwide trends include hardwood decking, arched decks, extra wide walkways, lighting, and unique handrails.
Personalization is also becoming popular. More and more, marinas are looking for options to monogram items throughout the marina. Everything from dock boxes to pile caps, boat mats and even main walkways can be personalized with the marina’s or the yacht club’s name and logo. Even power pedestal can be designed to include a logo that’s illuminated at night. For upscale marinas with long term slip holders another option is to offer signage or dock boxes personalized for the boat owner. It’s just another way for marinas to go that extra mile for their tenants and offer truly personalized service.
Many of the trends in our industry start with the upscale marinas. They want something unique for their customers; they want more amenities and services and farther reaching design features. From teak dock boxes, custom gates at the head of each finger pier and helicopter landing pads they sky is the limit for the modern marina.