Parking structures are typically associated with an adjacent or mixed-use building that offers its own architectural aesthetic. Design of the interior and exterior of the parking should consider drawing from that unique aesthetic and provide an extension of the quality of space. Even stand-alone parking structures should work within the context of their surroundings.
Parking is often the first experience people have when visiting a destination, and the last experience they have when they leave. This component plays a major factor into people’s decision whether or not to return. Therefore, the design of the parking facility must provide an attractive, vibrant, and pleasant experience for users.
Façade design can make or break a project. Renderings, physical models, 3-D modeling, and other visual depictions are now essential in the design and approval process. It matters what parking looks like – no matter the purpose. To serve high rise apartments, train stations, and town centers – the architecture of parking is now of critical importance. Metal facades, LED lighting, murals, art installations – each of these add more than sheer aesthetic value. They increase the sense of place, to serve the people that use and view the structure.
The integration of a healthy mix of uses further demonstrates the need for architecture to serve people. The buildings we design impact not only the people who enter them, but also the passersby, and the neighborhood or context around it. We often provide retail and other uses at grade to activate the streetscape, and serve related and auxiliary needs to the parking structure itself. The complementary nature of this mixed-use is indicative of our complex society and changing needs (and desires) as people. Millenials, in particular, choose to live in urban and semi-urban walkable neighborhoods – our architecture has begun to respond to that shift. It is my premise that we will not feel the full impact of that shift until the next generation (post-Millenial) – who will have experienced a more urban lifestyle with the a reduced pressure to drive.