Parking presents a unique opportunity to explore architectural aesthetics without the limitations presented by typical requirements for building enclosure. Without these restrictions, parking structures offer a freedom of expression including exposed structural forms, unique applications of materials, and façades that employ concepts of light and shadow.
In the early 1960s, parking garages were typically designed simply to store cars for commercial use. At that time they were considered merely accessory structures. Many of today’s building codes and zoning ordinances still refer to parking garages as accessory structures. It was acceptable to consider parking strictly utilitarian in nature.
However, over the last two decades, the focused has shifted to the security and safety of the people who park their cars in these structures. Designers are incorporating details to enhance the environment, improving safety from a variety of elements: better, more even lighting; increased visibility and lines of sight; glass backed elevators and open, well-lit stairwells.
Most recently, the focus of parking garage design has turned to the façade. Function is still critical to the success of both the architecture and the business of parking, but the value and impact of the façade has been recognized for its inherent worth.
Architecture is about people first. Buildings exist to serve the needs of people. It is not merely about design.