Posts Tagged ‘garage


Parking Structures Fit for Kings

Cordova Parkade, Vancouver

In the pages of Newsweek, Matt Vella reports on his quest for the world’s greatest parking structures. The piece is accompanied by a slide show titled “Most Incredible Parking Garages.” They may be the neglected stepchild of the architecture world, but buildings that house cars are an important component of modern urban life, and we’ll be seeing a lot more of them, so they might as well be good. While Vella’s definition is a bit broad, his admiration is sincere:

Few and far between, these wonders are sprinkled around the globe in locations from Paris to Santa Monica. These buildings-green parking garages, innovative automobile dealerships, and futuristic gas stations-form a network of buildings fit for admiration as well as for parking your car.

Santa Monica is mentioned because of the attention-getting Civic Center parking structure, the creation of Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners. Its glass panels add bold color to the seaside community, while concealing the presence of 900 vehicles inside. This innovative facility made history when it gained recognition as the first parking garage to be certified according to the standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating program.

Also singled out for praise is the Cordova Parkade in Vancouver, British Columbia, an $28 million edifice with a light well in the middle (pictured), recycled elements from an older building, and a method of cleaning storm water by filtration.

At the Fullerton branch of California State University, the Nutwood Parking Facility stands as an example of the movement toward greenness. Holding more than 2,500 vehicles, it is enveloped on three sides by “living walls” of vines and bamboo which are sustained by the storm water collection system.

Vella also finds much to admire in several automobile showrooms, particularly one in Paris where Citroën shows off its classy cars. Located on the fabulous Champs-Elysées, it had better look good . A Toyota dealership in Australia is impressive too, with its high degree of energy efficiency and its sinuously warped roof. Some compare this building’s profile to a snowdrift, while others think it resembles an interstellar craft that has just landed or is about to take off.

Another fine example of a car dealership to the nth degree is San Francisco’s Mercedes-Benz complex, which is actually four separate structures, including a tall, glass-enclosed atrium and a two-story showroom. In Los Angeles, Helios House is a modernistic gas station which, Vella says,

incorporates energy-efficient lights, a green roof of native plants, and a water-collection system that treats contaminated waste water and redistributes it to irrigate on-site greenery. The station’s unique metallic skin is made of prefabricated, recyclable, stainless-steel panels.

In Stamford, Connecticut, the Royal Bank of Scotland is in the process of constructing what will be the state’s largest green building, which will include a 2,000 car parking structure with an aluminum, faux wood façade.

This seems like a good opportunity to mention something that, while not a garage nor indeed a structure of any kind, is a place to keep cars, and does hold environmental benefit as a high priority. It’s actually the parking lot of a ballpark, US Cellular Field, on the south side of Chicago. Its permeable surface is composed of more than half a million interlocking pavement blocks (made of recycled brick) that absorb water rather than letting it run off into channels. The Environmental Protection Agency and the US Green Building Council are all in favor of the concept, and this thing can soak up 920 gallons of water per minute.

Are there any more innovative parking solutions out there that we should know about?

SOURCE: ” Traffic-Stopping Parking Structures “05/21/08
photo courtesy of SqueakyMarmot , used under this Creative Commons license


Aging in Place Vital for Peace of Mind


We’re still in May, Older Americans’ Month, and a recent article by Jerry Rouleau and Scott Stroud explores a concept that’s very important to us for that reason. They interview Tracy DeCarlo, of the consulting firm Detailed Solutions, Inc., who has written several books on maximum usability in a home. DeCarlo’s slogan is “Sales Follow Function.”

This concept includes and is known by several different terms, but whether you call it accessibility, inclusive design, universal design, or transgenerational design, a set of expectations exists that make possible the comfort and reassurance of aging in place. Something like 4/5ths of American senior citizens have absolutely no desire to leave their homes to live in institutions. They want to stay where they are, and architects and builders are lining up to help them do it. This article covers six of DeCarlo’s more than two hundred tips. For example, the authors describe their expert’s take on the full-function laundry room, something DeCarlo has seen done wrong in multi-million dollar houses:

There is no industry standard as to whether the washer goes to the left or the right of the dryer. If you purchase a washer and dryer as a set, they are set up so that the doors open opposing each other, making it easy to transfer laundry. But… the existing plumbing often forces a homeowner to switch the set around, forcing both the washer and dryer doors to open into each other. Since the doors are rarely reversible, this turns a common task into an uncomfortable burden.

A built-in ironing board is all well and good, DeCarlo says, but it’s an excellent idea to find out if the client is left-handed, before installing a feature oriented toward a right-handed person. She’s a big fan of the central vacuum system, which is measurably more healthful than the alternative, especially where allergic people are concerned. Besides, some green certification programs allow points for the central vacuum system, due to the improvement of indoor air quality.

Stove hoods and bathroom vents need to dump their air outside, not recirculate it, and this is a detail DeCarlo sees as well worth attending to. She strongly encourages that attention be paid to surge protection, for the sake of phone and cable lines, as well as to preserve the dozens of electronic appliances a contemporary home is likely to contain. The authors say,

New home buyers will get real value and usable benefit from such systems, and the small investment to offer them such protection could give you a real competitive advantage, even in a tight market.

On the subject of the all-purpose garage, DeCarlo is very enthusiastic, urging us to think of it as a room in the house, which will have furniture, just like any other room. The garage’s furniture consists of workbenches, sinks, mechanical devices, cabinets, storage bins for unseasonal clothing and equipment, and many other possible items. That’s in addition to being a home for cars, bikes, snowmobiles, mowers, jet skis, weed-eaters, trash cans and recycling bins. The last thing a garage should be is an afterthought.

All in all, it looks like consciousness of the Aging in Place trend is really starting to catch on.

SOURCE: “Sales Follow Function: 6 Ways to Differentiate Your Homes and Connect With Buyers” 04/20/08
photo courtesy of Elsie esq., used under this Creative Commons license