Long Island’s downtowns have more than 4,000 acres of surface area dedicated to parking 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...
Although each firm developed their design for a specific community, these concepts can be easily applied to downtowns across the Long Island region and nation. Economic benefits, funding and cost analyses were all provided for each scheme, ensuring they are a plausible solution for their individual communities.
Civic Arches, Rockville Centre / Utile, Inc.
The Village of Rockville Centre, a transit-served suburban community, has a thriving scene of restaurants and shops but lacks a significant civic gathering space. The Utile team designed a garage prototype with monumental ground-floor arches, which would function as parking during the week and a welcoming public plaza on weekends.
The prototype is designed with an innovative structural system of ground-floor arches built of tilt-up concrete panels with economical precast concrete components on the levels above.
To make better use of the parking Patchogue already has, dub Studios designed a parking deck as part of a shared parking system called “Brackets.” Brackets comprises a new mid-block parking deck, designed to be airy, open, and easy to access, as well as a wayfinding system of automated signs that directs drivers to lots with free spaces. The network of pedestrian pathways, signage, and landscape improvements would make it easier to find available parking, and more pleasurable to walk through the lots and alleys that link parking lots to Main Street.
Parks and Rides, Ronkonkoma / Roger Sherman Architecture + Urban Design
Roger Sherman Architecture + Urban Design’s super-scaled, family-focused, all-season recreational park is designed to insert a slice of center-city energy, density, and intensity into exburban Suffolk County at the intersection of its planes (MacArthur/Islip Airport), trains (Long Island Rail Road), and automobiles (the Long Island Expressway).
The scheme proposes a pair of gigantic open spaces, one a “park” and one for “rides.” The “rides” portion of the scheme features a covered outdoor space sheltering the train platform and airport shuttle stop with a parking structure. Its bubble-wrapped counterpart – the “park” – contains soccer fields, a hockey rink, mini-golf and a driving range, a go-cart track, and a cricket field stadium with seating for 9,000 spectators.
Train Terraces, Westbury / LTL Architects
LTL Architects’ scheme is a phased project, designed with multiple terraces that bridge under, over, and along the Long Island Rail Road, intensifying connections within the Village of Westbury. The design produces a dynamic interchange between transportation, commerce, culture, and living in place of single-use surface parking.
The number of spaces would be doubled on both sides of the tracks, in parking decks enveloped by compatible transit-oriented uses, all wrapped in an elegantly-designed facade: small retail shops, terraced apartments, a bike shop and bus shelter, “new tech” incubator space, and a civic terrace at track level, where the public can gather with a great view.