The importance of parking garage design

Paul Wessel
Published on: 

Well-designed parking facilities are high-performing and efficient—and ultimately, they support local communities and our planet, as well as helping to drive profit. Architect, lecturer and author Shannon Sanders McDonald writes in her book, "The Parking Garage: Design and Evolution of a Modern Urban Form":

“The parking garage is a familiar space to almost everyone in industrial society. That the garage is central to the arrival and departure experience for most buildings and cities suggests that it is a common transition, eliciting complex emotions that people often choose to ignore. What makes a successful parking garage is the creating of a positive transition experience regardless of whether the garage is being viewed from the outside or experienced from within.

…The parking garage has tremendous potential to integrate the disparate elements of the American city—to support mobility for us all. As the building type continues to evolve, its civic role—as a link between different types of travel—will become even more evident and vital. Form follows parking.”

Planners and economic developers are becoming more aware about the importance of “elegant and exciting” garage design, as described in the article “From Eyesore to Icon” in the May/June 2013 Planning issue.

The resurgence of cities, more mixed-use development, the establishment of design districts and the impact of new urbanism are all “forcing better [parking structures] and higher-concept designs,” says Steve Rebora of Desman Associates. “You can’t come in with a vanilla design anymore.”