There's been a lot of focus recently on the proposed parking garage for the Park South redevelopment in Albany. Much of the talk has been about the fact that the garage is, well, enormous relative to structures around it, prompting concerns that it's out of scale. Also: The thing just kind of looks boring.
So we thought we'd look around for not-boring parking garages. Many of the designs we found would be impractical for Park South -- because of setting, cost, or whatever -- but we thought it'd be interesting to see a wide variety of approaches to the problem of making a parking garage that's useful, appropriate to its surroundings, and visually appealing.
Here are six examples from other cities that caught our eye...
Chesapeake Car Park One and Two - Oklahoma City
Architect: Elliott + Associates Architects
AOA coment: Man, these things are sleek. Between the long, smooth lines and the screens and the white color they look like an Apple device.
More about this project: Elliott + Associates were aiming to "reinvent the parking garage experience" so that the project would move beyond the typical "dark, dirty, low, confusing and oil spotted" experience of a parking garage. [Arch Daily]
photo via Elliott + Associates Architects website
Cordova Parkades - Vancouver
Architect: Henriquez Partners Architects
AOA comment: This garage is a redevelopment completed in 2004 -- it had previously been a parking structure for an old department store -- in a historic urban neighborhood of Vancouver. It's interesting to us how the design looks more like a regular streetscape than a parking garage. From the firm's website:
Sensitive to the area's turn-of-the century surroundings, but due to the lack of 19th-century models of parking structures, Henriquez Partners' design intent was to develop a modern architectural vernacular drawing inspiration from the heritage context. Retail uses at grade are located at the Water Street Parkade to stimulate street-level activity and new office space inserted into the front of the existing structure provides streetscape continuity and "eyes on the street." Stair towers hang from the façade, designed to evoke the neighbourhood's fire escapes, while an intricate lattice of granite and steel inspired by 19th-century train stations screen the parking space.
More about this project: Said architect Gregory Henriquez: "[The garage] was a necessary evil for Gastown ... This will probably be the first and the last parkade that I'm involved with." [The Province]
photo via Henriquez Partners Architects website
West Hollywood Library - West Hollywood, California
Artist: Obey Giant (Shepard Fairey)
AOA comment: There doesn't appear to be much special about the design of this parking garage itself, it's a pretty typical concrete structure. But what caught our eye is the way the garage's flat sides were used as canvases for huge murals through a partnership with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Albany's had some success with mural projects the last few years, so the idea of incorporating art into a parking structure is something to think about. [LA Weekly]
photo via MoCA LA FB page
Kansas City Public Library Community Bookshelf - Kansas City
AOA comment: Yep, the facade of this parking garage was designed to look like a bookshelf. As the library's website explains of the "community bookshelf": "The shelf showcases 22 titles reflecting a wide variety of reading interests as suggested by Kansas City readers and then selected by The Kansas City Public Library Board of Trustees." While this wouldn't necessarily be the right approach for a lot of circumstances, we thought this was interesting because of the way it 1) doesn't look at all like a parking garage and 2) creates an engaging streetscape.
Ballet Valet Parking Garage and Retail Center - Miami Beach
AOA comment: That's actual greenery growing on the parking garage. We thought this was interesting because of the way the greenery makes the parking garage appear more like a natural structure -- maybe an escarpment -- rather than a big rectangle for parking cars. And it's like the retail on the street level is built into the escarpment.
More about this project: Miami has apparently become a global hot spot for interesting parking garages. [Architizer]
photo via Arquitectonic website
Santa Monica Civic Center - Santa Monica, California
Architect: Moore Ruble Yudell
AOA comment: So fun. It looks like candy. Also: It was one of the first LEED certified parking structures in the US -- and includes solar panels in its design.
More on this project: Said architect James Mary O'Connor: "I went by one night and saw tourists taking pictures of each other in front of the façade ... I thought, well, we've done what we set out to do." [ArchNewsNow]
photo via Moore Ruble Yudell website
Lists of interesting parking garages:
+ Flavorwire: The World's 10 Most Beautiful Parking Garages
+ The Coolist: 10 Incredible Parking Garage Designs
+ Popular Mechanics: The World's 18 Strangest Parking Garages
+ LA Weekly: Five Most Beautiful Parking Garages in Los Angeles
+ Web Urbanist: 14 Exemplary Parking Facilities
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