November 1, 2009
Chad Emerson has posted a couple of times about parking requirements in land use regulations. Architect Roger K. Lewis takes on parking garage aesthetics in his Washington Post column yesterday called Where You Park Doesn't Have to be Scary.
Think of all the parking garages you have visited where lighting is dim, visibility is constrained, way-finding signage is obscure and orientation is elusive. No wonder garages can feel unsafe, threatening and even spooky.
Lewis calls parking garages "the Rodney Dangerfield of architecture" because they get no aesthetic respect. He points to a new exhibition at the National Building Museum called "House of Cars: Innovation and the Parking Garage," which runs through July 2010. According to Lewis:
But "House of Cars" demonstrates that parking garages do not have to be ugly or scary. Indeed, some architects and their clients have aspired to make attractive, artfully designed garages.
Publicly visible, multi-level garages, essentially stacks of horizontal or sloped concrete plates, entail three basic design issues: how to form the structural skeleton, how to clad the exterior and how to relate the garage to its context. At the National Building Museum, you will see how architects have dealt with these issues while you also learn about the 100-year evolution of parking garage architecture.
Sounds like a good reason to visit the National Building Museum.
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I didn't understand the importance of aesthetically pleasant parking garages until visiting Florida State University recently in Tallahassee. Having seen many campuses during my many years of higher education, I was comparatively impressed with how that institution has seemingly incorporated a common scheme into all aspects of their campus, including the parking garages. Undoubtedly, these aesthetically integrated garages must have a subconsciously profound effect on the students and locals in terms of the pride taken in the beauty of their campus.
Posted by: Zack Tumlin | Nov 2, 2009 8:19:58 AM