Building a better parking garage

Can parking lots be urban destinations?
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

Architect Magazine has a good piece on the trend of designing better parking lots. But first Lindsey Roberts points out the grim reality:

There are 500 million surface parking spaces in the U.S., and the number grows daily. In some cities, parking lots make up more than a third of the land area. But the basics of parking design haven't really been rethought since the 1950s, even as developers charge toward denser population centers.

Roberts goes on to cite a handful of good examples of unconventional parking garages that are used for more than just parking and storing cars. I highlight two of my favorite examples below.

In Miami, there's 1111 Lincoln Road, a mixed-use parking garage.

As Architect says, "It may be the first parking-garage-as-destination it has even hosted weddings."

But I like how the architect, Herzog & de Meuron, describes his vision for the parking garage and the general function of the structures: "A car park is a public facility, like a train station or an airport, where people change from one mode of transportation to another. ... [At 1111 Lincoln Road] a retail unit and a private residence are located on the upper levels, and the structure can be used for parties, photo or film shoots, fashion shows, concerts or other social or commercial activities, offering amazing views as the backdrop for the stage."

You just can't create the inviting atmosphere of a public gathering place with the fort-like design of a traditional parking garage.

Another example comes from Pomona College where Ehrlich Architects created this three-story parking garage with parking on the first two levels and a sports field on top.

Condensing the parking spots with the field allowed the college to use areas previously designated for parking for other projects or landscaping.

It is hard to imagine being excited about a parking structure, but the new South Campus structure is, without a doubt, exciting, said the school's President David Oxtoby. I can honestly say that I never thought I could get excited about parking garages. I was wrong.

Find out more about innovative parking design, here.

Top image courtesy of 1111 Lincoln Road

Bottom image courtesy of Pomona College

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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