RE:think – Parking

What’s one of the biggest pains when planning and developing property?!

PARKING – It’s big, it’s messy, and it engulfs entire city blocks and parcels everywhere!

What’s one thing people always gripe about in any dense, urban area?!

NOT ENOUGH PARKING – There is never enough of it.

Based on the points above, parking is both a blessing and a curse (nothing new here). Despite this constant struggle between parking as a nuisance and parking as an amenity, there are opportunities in some cases to completely rearrange how parking is designed and developed.

Here is a collection of projects that challenge conventional methods and RE:think parking.

1111 Lincoln Road, Miami—Robert Wennett

1111 Lincoln

1111 Lincoln Road—Miami is what you get when you put famed architects Herzog & de Meuron with an unconventional development and visionary developer Robert Wennett. I could go on and on about how the team flipped the notion of parking on its head and came up with something completely new, but the video below does the project way more justice than I could.

This project wasn’t always viewed as a massive success. Many critics doubted its viability while it was under construction and even when it became operational. Flash forward a few years, and we can now see how visionary it was and continues to be.

200 Eleventh Avenue, New York—Young Woo & Associates

200 Eleventh Avenue (aka Sky Garage Condominium) in West Chelsea is the first en-suite sky garage high-rise in the country, elevating the owner’s car right into his/her apartment building.  Completed in early 2010, the project was nearly entirely pre-sold despite the ongoing economic crisis, thanks in part to its “papparazi-proof” en-suite elevator.

Parking Young Yoo

Terminal Nord, Hoenheim, France—Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid designs some of the most exotic buildings in the world. Her design for the Terminal Nord in Hoenheim France uses parking compositionally with the entire development site. The aerial image below shows how the parking lot—while still a large, uninterrupted mass—is integrated artfully into the design of the whole site.

Zaha ParkingZaha Parking 2

Parking lot at the University of Copenhagen

Asphalt and other surface parking materials create durable, mobile surfaces that are ideal for automobiles and heavy traffic, but they also completely seal up the land they cover. Porous, permeable paving, like seen in this Copenhagen parking lot below, alleviates the need to block the land from breathing at the surface.

Pavers 1

Solar Panel Parking Lot

EEPro Solar developed some of the world’s first photovoltaic carports. According to the company:

Our carports are ideal for large parking lots, and for a wide range of users from business and buildings, to amusement parks, ski resorts, major transportation centers and even the country’s largest malls. What’s more, it’s possible these very structures could become revenue generators, selling energy ports for plug-in hybrids and other vehicles.


EEPro has solar carports for single, double or entire parking lots that can be installed on existing parking lots or parking garages with steel rods. Modular systems allows fast scalable solar carports to be installed. Let your company be more “Green” by installing solar carports to reduce summer heat inside the cars along with producing solar energy at the same time.

PV Parking

Want to learn more? Check out these links here and here.

Autostadt – Germany

You can’t have an article about rethinking the parking lot and not bring up the Autostadt in Germany. This car museum, adjacent to the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, features two glass car silos. The silos store new Volkswagens that were recently completed in the factory.

Germany Parking 1

Customers in Germany have the option of picking their cars up from the Autostadt silos in person.  The Autostadt supplies the customer with free entrance, meal tickets and a variety of events building up to the point where the customer can follow on screen as the automatic elevator picks up the selected car in one of the silos. The car is then transported out to the customer without being driven at all, and the odometer is thus on “0”.

Are car silos the parking solution for congested city centers worldwide? Probably not (imagine what the cost/SF would be!), but they sure are beautiful and intriguing.

Germany Parking 2Car Stacking

Now for a more utilitarian approach to car stacking. Spend any time in cities like New York, Chicago, or San Francisco and you’re bound to see one of these parking lots. Car stacking isn’t the solution for every urban center, but it does drastically increase the usable density of an urban parking lot.  For certain parking situations where space–and not time–is at a premium, car stacking does the job.

NYC Parking 1

Will parking go away anytime soon? No. However, the projects above attempt to rethink how we use and interact with parking. So, while parking may always be a nuisance to some and an amenity to others, it doesn’t always have to be so static.

7 thoughts on “RE:think – Parking

  1. Nice post. As an Architect, parking is one of the first things that must be considered in the programming of any new development. It drives the proverbial bus…. It can change the direction that one must go based solely on the occupancy and function. These examples show a more captive way to solve the design problem.

    • You hit the nail on the head, Chad. It’s amazing how much impact parking has on a project. Often times, there can be a disconnect between the development and design ends too (potentially because not all developers understand the sheer design constraints that come with parking). Thanks for your comment!

  2. What an awesome collection of ideas. I never would’ve guessed that parking could actually add to the beauty of a facility instead of detracting from it. I think the solar panel concept is my favorite, followed closely by the airport terminal in France.

  3. Great post, like Set, I really like the Solar Panel Parking Lot project. Solar panels, along with a good design integration, could be a beautiful and ecologic solution to transform large asphalt parking lots into energy generators. Off course, first we need to make the technology affordable and efficient.

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