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Parking Garage Aesthetics


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#1 Dismuke

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 02:35 PM

If you look at most of the parking garages in downtown Fort Worth and other cities - well, they are butt ugly. Despite the fact that buildings put up today tend not to be as ugly as those put up in the 1960s and 1970s, this tends to NOT be the case with parking garage structures. I understand that the buildings serve a utilitarian purpose. But so do office buildings, hotels, furniture and dinner plates. And yet one can find plenty of aesthetically pleasing examples of all of the above that are perfectly functional.

One happy exception is the parking garage the Bass family has built behind the Chase Building - though I don't particularly care for the gray paint. And a recent parking garage near one of the new courthouse buildings has some element of aesthetics incorporated into it.

As proof that parking garages do not HAVE to look bland and ugly and as evidence of the far higher aesthetic standards of the 1920s, I offer the following photos of the Tulsa Auto Hotel that I took in 2004 on a visit to that very beautiful city. Sadly, the Tulsa Auto Hotel has since been demolished - when I visited in 2007, the site was an empty lot with bulldozers pushing dirt around. It was the most unique parking structure I had ever seen. And I think that people who put up parking structures today could learn a thing or two from it.


I suspect the part on the right was added on sometime in the 1950s.








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#2 longhornz32

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 03:39 PM

Here's one of my favorites. It's the parking garage for the Austin Convention Center.






#3 JKC

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Posted 13 July 2008 - 08:18 PM

Urban Land's favorite this month too.

#4 McHand

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Posted 15 July 2008 - 10:45 AM

It's not a garage, it's an Auto Hotel.

Love it!

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#5 RD Milhollin

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Posted 10 August 2008 - 10:13 AM

Neat article here from the Washington Post archives site on the evolution of parking garages, particularly the uglification of these structures over time.

One point made toward the end deals with the option of converting obsolete parking structures into alternative uses, such as residential lofts. This would be hard to do with the ramp-style garages most often built today. If city development codes required horizontal floors on parking garages this would enable adaptive reuse of a particular structure when and if future public transportation options made it redundent. Another thing that would help ease the imposition of parking garages onto the urban landscape easily and presumably profitably would be to incorporate ground floor retail into the building design. A further stretch would be to offer residential options on the top floors; that seems to be where people would most like to live in downtown areas, no?

#6 Brian Luenser

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Posted 10 August 2008 - 12:26 PM

QUOTE (Prairie Pup @ Aug 10 2008, 11:13 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Neat article here from the Washington Post archives site on the evolution of parking garages, particularly the uglification of these structures over time.

One point made toward the end deals with the option of converting obsolete parking structures into alternative uses, such as residential lofts. This would be hard to do with the ramp-style garages most often built today. If city development codes required horizontal floors on parking garages this would enable adaptive reuse of a particular structure when and if future public transportation options made it redundant. Another thing that would help ease the imposition of parking garages onto the urban landscape easily and presumably profitably would be to incorporate ground floor retail into the building design. A further stretch would be to offer residential options on the top floors; that seems to be where people would most like to live in downtown areas, no?


Interesting article. As far as adapting the use of Ramp Style garages I ask why Ramp Style garages are smart in the first place? Some garages (Does anybody know of one in DTFW?) have elevators for the cars. To me, the only good solution. The pollution and fuel used for people winding around a garage is unacceptable. The energy expelled and pollution resulting from electric elevators must be only a few percent of three minutes of driving a car up or down ramps. And I have a fear of running over a pedestrian to boot. While rolling down to the first floor my cars are too quiet. Manufacturers need to make a device less alarming and rude than a horn, and steady, for such applications. Kind of a deer whistle for humans. As we drive more electrics it is even a bigger problem. Living downtown I park my two cars and a scooter on the fourth floor. If we all drove scooters they could all fit on the first floor! Nobody wants to convert their City to Shanghai but scooters are frequently the deal. Time to scoot!
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#7 Recyclican

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Posted 19 August 2008 - 09:51 PM

I know commercial building code requires the building to be ventilated; either by mechanical means or by having open facades (50-percent if my memory serves me). That being said, if someone were to recreate the Tulsa Hotel they'd have to rip off half of the windows you see on those lovely facades. They wouldn't have to, per se, however it's my understanding that mechanical ventilation costs a great deal more.

#8 JKC

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 06:01 AM

The elevators require a great deal more patience on the part of the user and infinitely more R&M. I don't know how to post photos, but I did see a nice looking garage for the Santa Monica Civic Center recently. If anyone less technologically impaired than I might take a look.

#9 Fort Worthology

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 08:15 AM

QUOTE (Dismuke @ Jul 13 2008, 03:35 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
If you look at most of the parking garages in downtown Fort Worth and other cities - well, they are butt ugly. Despite the fact that buildings put up today tend not to be as ugly as those put up in the 1960s and 1970s, this tends to NOT be the case with parking garage structures. I understand that the buildings serve a utilitarian purpose. But so do office buildings, hotels, furniture and dinner plates. And yet one can find plenty of aesthetically pleasing examples of all of the above that are perfectly functional.


Just because something is utilitarian doesn't mean it can't be elegant and/or beautiful (a fact I know you know, but I figure it bears repeating). The cheapness of Z-grade modernism xeroxes made junk buildings popular with the penny pinchers - after all, you could use a lot of standardized elements to drive down cost-per-square foot ("it was cheap"). The style is totally indifferent to the function of the building, so no need to tweak for use ("it was cheap"). The style ignores context and surroundings, so no need to design for place and location ("it was cheap"). When buildings turned into simple boxes of concrete and glass, the even more utilitarian parking structures became objects that looked like the even uglier box the components of the main building were shipped in.

I'm sure Mies meant greatness when he proclaimed that "less is more," but he and his ilk (or perhaps more importantly, their even less talented budget-shrinking copiers) wrought upon the world a degradation of style, taste, built environment, and place so terrible that many places still haven't recovered.

Robert Venturi rebutted to Mies that "less is a bore," and I'm inclined to agree (though not a big fan of Venturi, he was on to something there).

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#10 longhornz32

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Posted 11 September 2008 - 08:28 AM

The mention of elevators for parking garages made think of these two projects.

From what I read there have been a few "incidents" with incidents being cars falling from 6 stories or the elevator computer crashing trapping all the cars for 26 hours.





#11 dfwerdoc

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Posted 11 March 2013 - 02:28 AM

great parking garage .... the banners, the stores and how their fronts are jutting out and the cool slanted roof lines. these guys get it. 

 

8547127787_3132e7677d_o.jpg



#12 RD Milhollin

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 05:40 PM

Kansas City Central Library "Community Bookshelf", a side wall of the library's attached parking structure:

 

http://www.flickr.co...in/photostream/



#13 RenaissanceMan

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Posted 08 February 2014 - 07:17 PM

Big fan.

#14 Austin55

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 01:24 AM

here's a great example of good aesthetics on a small scale at Baylor. 

 

166962.JPG

77 Hudson Street in Jersey City has a beautiful parking podium. Would love to see something like this applied to the 777 Main/Bass hall garage. A simple layer of glass and perhaps brick and metal accents would totally change the ugliest hunk of concrete in downtown into something actually pretty. 

 

03_77-Hudson.jpg

You can check it out here on street view.

 

There's also this one in Chicago as part of the "streeter" project in Chicago. Same sort of idea. Link to streetview.

 



#15 John T Roberts

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 11:39 AM

City of Fort Worth Building Codes require that parking garages have at least 50% of their wall areas open.  You could do a combination of glass, and metal screens to achieve an appearance of a decorative wall, that is still predominantly open.  I still think the Municipal Parking Garage next to the Omni and the Convention Center is our best looking garage.



#16 RenaissanceMan

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 01:42 PM

  I still think the Municipal Parking Garage next to the Omni and the Convention Center is our best looking garage.


I agree, but I've wondered why the ground level space still sits unoccupied to this day.

#17 John T Roberts

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 01:50 PM

I'm guessing that the Convention Center and the Omni Hotel do not generate enough critical mass on a steady basis to warrant the retail.  However, with all of the workers at AT&T right across the street, you would think there would be some business that could cater to their needs and have a little erratic traffic from the Convention Center and the hotel.



#18 Austin55

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 05:27 PM

City of Fort Worth Building Codes require that parking garages have at least 50% of their wall areas open.  You could do a combination of glass, and metal screens to achieve an appearance of a decorative wall, that is still predominantly open.  I still think the Municipal Parking Garage next to the Omni and the Convention Center is our best looking garage.

I noticed the City Place garage is completely surrounded but the "facade" is extended away from the concrete structure a few inches away from the concrete parking structure. 

I'm also surprised the Convention center doesn't drive enough traffic to warrant a restaurant or something at the Omni. I'm glad that atleast the option for retail is there in the future. 



#19 John T Roberts

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Posted 09 February 2014 - 05:52 PM

Also, the darker portions of the facade on the City Place Parking Garage are actually a metal screen.  It appears that about 50% of that area is open.



#20 Austin55

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Posted 18 June 2014 - 11:10 PM

A beauty I came across in Charlotte.

 

JnBlhrV.jpg

 

A similar style would really look nice on the Cooks campus. You all know the one in particular. The trains would be nice to...



#21 Austin55

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Posted 04 January 2015 - 04:23 AM

Here's a stunning one in Missoula.

 

1_18.jpg

 

It uses perforated metal panels that look nice and let air flow through, and looks just as good during full daylights.

 

Here's the architects page with more pics






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