Complexity Via Simplicity: Urbana’s Parking Structure Facade

Asked to design an interactive facade for an existing parking structure at the new Eskenazi Hospital in Indianapolis, Urbana principle Rob Ley had a conundrum to deal with: “With ’ really extreme weather patterns, we gave a lot of thought to: how can we make something that’s interactive but won’t be broken in a year?” he told the Architect’s Newspaper. “Unfortunately, the history of kinetic facades teaches us that that they can become a maintenance nightmare.”

His solution came from turning the question on its head – how could they design and fabricate a static facade that appears to change when the viewer moves? The resulting design appears highly complex, while in fact using aluminum fins bent at just three different angles. Find out more about the challenges of fabricating this facade, and inserting it into an existing structure, through the video above or at the Architect’s Newspaper Fabrikator blog.

Could Detroit’s Most Remarkable Ruin Finally Have a Future?

© Flickr user Vishal Patel via Huffington Post

Originally posted on the Huffington Post’s Home Section as “How a Historic Movie Palace Became America’s Most Unusual Parking Garage,” this article tells of both the history and the possible future of the Michigan Theater – once one of Detroit’s most opulent nights out, but now a crumbling (albeit oddly magnificent) parking garage. Emblematic of the city’s rapid decline, it turns out the recently-purchased Michigan Theater may also be a symbol of the city’s regeneration.

An inventor’s workshop. A movie palace. A rock club. A car park. A skate park. The backdrop for Eminem videos. Now it’s one of America‘s strangest parking garages, but a peek inside the Michigan Theatre reveals why it’s remained a landmark — and has a unique story that explains a lot about the importance of preserving ’ historic architecture.

The former theater is attached to the Michigan Building, a partially occupied office tower, and might look familiar to some who have sought out urban decay photos. There’s something radically visceral about parked in the garage under the crumbling but ornately decorated ceilings of the site that in its heyday hosted legends like the Marx Brothers, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong and Doris Day.

Read more on the theater’s unusual, inspiring story after the break

JAJA Designs “Park ‘N’ Play” Parking Garage in Copenhagen

Exterior View. Image ©

With the intention of creating a beautiful public space from what is usually one-function building, JAJA architects are redefining what a parking deck can be. Their recent competition entry for a garage in the city of Nordhavn, Copenhagen is an inviting structure that incorporates green facades and a rooftop playground, making full use of its placement in an up-and-coming urban neighborhood. Read all about the aptly named “Park ‘N’ Play”, after the break.

Four Practices Re-Envision Parking in Long Island Downtowns

Parks and Rides. Image © Roger Sherman Architecture + Urban Design and the Index

Long Island’s downtowns have more than 4,000 acres of surface area dedicated to lots. That’s roughly 6.5 square miles of prime real estate, a phenomenon quite common in most American cities. When necessary, these lots are often exchanged for a standard “set of concrete shelves” that share little to no connection with their surroundings. This leads to the question, why must parking garages be so monofunctional and, well, ugly?

To help solve this nationwide issue, the Long Island Index challenged four leading architectural firms to envision a more innovative way to free up surface lot space in four Long Island communities.

See what they came up with, after the break…

Designing Parking Garages For a Car-less Future

The trend is part of a wider drive to rethink parking worldwide. Image © Architects by Rien van Rijthoven

This intriguing article on The Atlantic  highlights a growing trend as cities become more focused on pedestrians, bicycles and public transportparking garages that are designed with alternative uses in mind. Developers are ensuring that these garages have ”good bones”, such as comfortable ceiling heights, that will allow them to be easily converted into apartments or offices in a future when many city-dwellers don’t own cars. You can read the full article here.

The World’s 10 Coolest Car Parks

1111 Lincoln Road in Miami, USA. Image © Nelson Garrido/1111Lincoln Road Shot Reprinted with permission from MBeach1, LLLP

Parking garages generally have a bad reputation – particularly now that are seen as such an environmentally unfriendly way to travel, not to mention the fact that they are often unattractive utilitarian structures. To counteract this common perception, the website Stress Free Airport Parking has launched an award for the World’s Coolest Car Park. Read on after the break to find out which 10 parking structures have been shortlisted for the top award.

Must Parking Garages Be So Ugly?

1111 Lincoln Road in by Herzog & de Meuron. Image © Nelson Garrido/1111Lincoln Road Shot Reprinted with permission from MBeach1, LLLP

In his column in Providence JournalDavid Brussat questions why parking garages can’t be designed to better compliment their surroundings. He believes that these utilitarian spaces should look like they “belong in a city,” rather than resembling “a giant set of shelves.” He also examines cities which achieve this aim – incorporating styles from Art Deco to Neo-classical – and comes to the interesting conclusion that Richmond, Virginia is the “mecca of parking decks.” You can read the full article here.

Parking Is Hell (But Designers Can Help)

1111 Lincoln Road. Image © Nelson Garrido/1111Lincoln Road Shot Reprinted with permission from MBeach1, LLLP

Most is free – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a high cost. A recent podcast from Freakonomics Radio (which you can listen to at the end of this article) examined parking in US , investigating the “cost of parking not paid for by drivers” – a cost paid not just by the government, but by the environment – due to congestion and pollution caused by people searching for kerbside parking. For example, in a 15 block area of Los Angeles the distance traveled by drivers looking for parking is equivalent to one trip across the USA per day.

One potential solution which they discuss is a San Francisco project called SF Park, which makes use of sensor technology to measure the demand for parking in certain areas of the city and adjust price according to demand. In theory, this would create a small number of empty spaces on each block and dramatically reduce the time that many drivers spend cruising for parking spaces.

Though the idea is certainly an intelligent approach to the problem of kerbside parking, unsurprisingly all this talk of supply, demand and pricing sounds very much like an economist’s answer to a problem. But what can designers do to help the situation?

Perhaps, from the designer’s point of view, the real problem with kerbside parking and surface lots is that they are always seen as a provision “coupled with” a building or area of the city. There have been a number of attempts by architects – some successful and some tragically flawed – to make parking spaces less of a rupture in a city’s fabric and more of a destination in themselves. Could these point to another way?

Read about 3 examples of parking’s past, and one of its potential future, after the break…

Video: Tetris Apartments / OFIS Arhitekti

YouTube Preview Image

The Tetris Apartments is a project that we already published in 2008. This is an update video courtesy of slovenian architects OFIS arhitekti. The video focuses primarily on the very geometric shapes of the facade of the building.

The International Parking Institute 2010 Awards

Car One at Chesapeake, Oklahoma City

The International Parking Institute (IPI) has announced the winners of their 2010 International Institute’s Awards of Excellence Competition. Each year, the competition recognizes world-class examples of design and program innovation.

This year’s winners reflect a parking industry trend toward sustainability with many of the projects incorporating LEED certification, energy efficient lighting, use of solar panels, advanced technologies and innovative approaches that reduce the need for more parking spaces.

To see all the winners, click here. The three awards of excellence after the break.

Multi-Level Parking voestalpine / x Architekten

© David Schreyer
© David Schreyer

Architects: x Architekten (Linz and Vienna)
Location: Linz,
Architects in Charge: David Birgmann, Bettina Brunner, Rainer Kasik, Max Nirnberger, Lorenz Prommegger
Client: voestalpine Stahl GmbH
Constructed Area: 20,700 sqm
Project Year: 2007-2008
Photographs: David Schreyer

© David Schreyer © David Schreyer © David Schreyer © David Schreyer

Veranda car park / Paul de Ruiter


Architect: Paul de Ruiter
Location: Rotterdam, Netherlands
Project Architect:
Project Team: Michael Noordam, Dieter Blok, Monique Verhoef, Willeke Smit, Sander van Veen
Client: Dienst Stadstoezicht Rotterdam & Ontwikkelingsbedrijf Rotterdam
Construction Advisor: ABT bv, adviseurs in bouwtechniek
Installations Advisor: Halmos bv
Car Advisor: Spark / Twynstra Gudde, adviseurs en managers
Building Management: Gemeentewerken Rotterdam
Urban Design: Rudy Uytenhaak Architectenbureau
Contractor: Dura Vermeer Beton- en Waterbouw bv
Constructed Area: 21,000 sqm
Project Year: 2002-2003
Construction year: 2003-2005
Photographs: Rien van Rijthoven

“Think Outside the Parking Box”, an international competition

banner_350x200Can’t ? Reduced availability and rising costs? Browsing aisle after aisle, fighting over the same spot? Got a ticket? Little aesthetic attractiveness of urban lots? As much as people love to drive, all good things must come to an end: .

Designboom and Nissan Motor Company are looking for YOUR artwork that illustrate your perception within the theme ‘Think outside the parking box’. Challenge conventional urban parking! playful enhanced parking technology, robotic facilities, safety, dynamic services, green parking … creative solutions that address urban parking problems, statements of objections, creative-innovative-and-hilarious ideas in form of videos, art- design objects and illustrations can be submitted.

Nissan Motor Company, Ltd. is currently the third largest Japanese car manufacturer. Two years ago Nissan launched Qashqai, a new breed of vehicle for the urban world. It is the first model to be styled by Nissan Design Europe in London and pioneered the crossover category in Europe. Qashqai is now Nissan’s best selling model. You are asked to include the ‘Qashqai’ or part of it (rear-view mirrors, grills, wheels, wheel caps,…) in your artwork. Application registration will be accepted from now until September 27th, 2009.

More information and registration here.

Saint Georges / Guerin & Pedroza Architectes


Architect: Guerin & Pedroza Architectes
Location: Toulouse,
Project owner: City of Toulouse (place Occitane), Altarea (shopping centre), Vinci (parking)
Technical design office: Ingénierie Studio (Toulouse)
Landscaper: Julie Poirel
Light designer: Roger Narboni Concepto
Urban furniture: Guérin & Pedroza
Surface area of the place: 10,000 sqm
Surface area of the shopping centre: 15,000 sqm (16,000 sqm total floor area)
Project year: 2003-2008
Photographs: Guerin & Pedroza

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Mercabarna Flor Market / WMA

Architects: Willy Müller Architects
Location: Mercabarna, Sant Boi de Llobregat, Barcelona,
Principal in Charge:
Associate Architect: Frédéric Guillaud
Project Team: Caterina Morna,Rupert Maurus (modelos 3D), Isabella Pintani, Valeria Santoni, Bruno Louzada, Francisco Villeda, Iris cantante, Marco Loperfido, Mara Cascais, Sabine Bruinink, Mario Perez Botero
Collaborators: Sérgio Pinto, Ricardo Amaral, Joana Lagès, Anne-Irène Valais, Christof Larbig, Jean-baptiste Scharffhausen, Deborah Schor, Jetske Kox, Andre Mota, Andres Ferner, Kelly Hendricks, Christian Lasch, Martin Ober-Hascher, Anja Summermatter, Kelly Klein, Gilda Camacho, Sérgio Ramos, Elke Gall
Structure Consultant: Area 5
Contractor: Iconsa
Project year: 2005/2008
Constructed Area: 15,000 sqm
Model Photographs: Adria Goula Sarda
Photographs: Jordi Puig, Ricardo Loureiro

Projects around the Royal Racecourse in Ostend / BURO II

Belgian practice BURO II designed some new projects around this historic site with a great importance to the city of Ostend. This is, amongst others, determined by its location: the proximity to the sea the Royal Galleries and the historically important Thermae Palace. The former racecourse for horse racing was turned into a collection of projects, and a crossroads of activities, which bring a new urban dynamic to ‘the queen of seaside resorts’.

Mountain Dwellings / BIG with JDS

Architects: BIG Architects
Location: Copenhagen,
Partner in Charge: Bjarke Ingles for , Julien De Smedt for JDS
Project Architect: Jakob Lange
Project Leader: Finn Nørkjær
Project Manager: Jan Borgstrøm
Construction Manager: Henrick Poulsen
Contributors: Annette Jensen, Dariusz Bojarski, Dennis Rasmussen, Eva Hviid-Nielsen, Joao Vieira Costa, Jørn Jensen, Karsten V. Vestergaard, Karsten Hammer Hansen, Leon Rost, Louise Steffensen, Malte Rosenquist, Mia Frederiksen, Ole Elkjær-Larsen, Ole Nannberg, Roberto Rosales Salazar, Rong Bin, Sophus Søbye, Søren Lambertsen, Wataru Tanaka
Collaborators: JDS/JULIEN DE SMEDT ARCHITECTS, Moe & Brødsgaard, Freddy Madsen Rådgivende Ingeniører ApS
Client: Høpfner A/S
Engineering: Moe & Brodsgaard
Construction: DS Elcobyg A/S /PH Montage
Project year: 2008
Constructed Area: 33,000 sqm
Photographs: Dragor Luft, Jacob Boserup, Jens Lindhe, Ulrik Jantzen

Retail Park “B-Park” / BURO II

Architects: BURO II & BONTINCK
Location: Bruges,
Client: NV Codic
Project Year: 2007 -2008
Constructed Area: 42.000 sqm
Photographs: Kris Vandamme