Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Parking Space Meets Civic Space

Iwan Baan Photography from NYTimes.com

Maggie Steber from NYTimes.com

The much anticipated Miami Beach parking garage designed by Herzog and de Meuron was featured this week on the NYTimes.com, and it highlights the use of the space for a black-tie wedding ceremony and other short term spectacles like open air yoga classes, wine tastings
and dinner parties.

The parking deck has a few tricks up it's sleeve that make it perform well as both a garage and a public space. First, it has high ceilings, in some places 34 feet! Next, it has removable parking barriers. A unique open staircase and sculptures help make it inviting, and it even has a boutique clothing store tucked into the fourth level!

In the midst of creating more civic spaces from all sorts of infrastructure that are usually reserved for automobiles and trains (SF Pavement to Parks, Sunday Streets SF, The Highlineand the many parks it inspires) it's exciting to see this phenomenon tackle the motherlode of underutilized, unfriendly typologies, gigantic parking decks. As the owner points out in the article: “This is not a parking garage,” Mr. Wennett said. “It’s really a civic space.” It is amazing to think that something as mundane as parking could be made premium, $4/hour instead of the usual $1.

While most parking garages are not blessed with all of these assets or a $65 Million budget and world-class design, it is exciting to imagine the copycats that may emerge in the future and make the blight of so many city centers into an inhabitable space for people, not just cars.

Michael McElroy for the New York Times from NYTimes.com