Civic Arches for Rockville Centre — Design Proposal Rockville Centre, NY

The Utile team’s proposal celebrates the role that public architecture can play in the larger civic life of a community. The design process was driven by: a) the desire to create a memorable and flexible ground level space that could be used for commuter parking during the work week and markets and festivals on the weekend and b) the desire to design a core and shell structure with the potential to be converted in the far future to other uses.

Given the relatively small size of available lots for future parking garages in downtown Rockville Centre—a lively, walkable village center approximately ten miles from JFK Airport and 45 minutes from Penn Station on the Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR’s) Babylon Line—we decided to develop a single garage prototype that could be built on three different sites, each customized to enhance the existing context and include additional PLUS program, such as housing, tennis courts, restaurants, shops, and office space.

A Robust Civic Realm

The character and structural logic of the ground floor of the garages was inspired by the robust concrete columns that hold up the elevated LIRR tracks. The monumental colonnade, which has the strength and order of ancient Roman architecture, provides a memorable visual counterpart to Rockville Centre’s walkable streets lined with shops and restaurants.

For the garages, a construction system is proposed that includes walls pierced by arches on the ground floor. When seen as a series in perspective, a monumental public space is created that complements the existing LIRR colonnade and invites weekend occupation of the garage for public events.

A Durable, Flexible Prototype

In addition to the flexibility of the garages over the course of a week, our garage prototype also anticipates a future generation when the use of cars and demand for parking might decrease. Flat floor plates, removable ramps, internally located elevator cores, and additional structural performance—along with the robust structural expression of the ground floor—allows for the adaptive reuse of the structures for office space and/or housing.

The design makes an overt reference, with the ground level arcades, to the vaguely Babylonian columns that hold up the LIRR. The civic arches of our garage prototype have been designed to enter into a dialogue with this important relic of a more heroic era of infrastructural projects.

A Worthy Investment

The cost of developing parking garages is fairly high; however, the value, investment, and revenue that they create make them attractive alternatives to sprawling asphalt parking lots. Rockville Centre could become one of the premier suburban centers on Long Island, fortifying its commercial district and tax base for years to come.

Key Facts

  • Garage prototype construction: 30 ft. x 30 ft. structural grid, 20 ft. high ground level (tilt-up concrete panels), 2 to 3 upper levels of precast prestressed concrete
  • Current surface parking spaces on lots 2, 3, 5 & 22: 1,025
  • Proposed structured parking spaces in 3 garages: 1,440 to 1,810, depending on PLUS programs included
  • PLUS uses: housing, tennis courts, restaurants, shops, police station, and office space
  • Net new parking spaces: 416 to 785
  • Net new plaza and park space: 161,800 sq. ft. (3.7 acres)

Economic Impacts (from parking consultant Gerard Giosa)

  • System approach; connectivity; flex space
  • Concept can support over $100,000,000 in new downtown investment
  • Residential elements would import over $4,000,000 in disposable income per year to the heart of the downtown area
  • Over $2,000,000 per year in tax revenue
  • Network of new walkways and public spaces will create economic development / investment opportunities to multiple areas of the downtown

Project Credits

Utile, Inc.
Tim Love and Elizabeth Christoforetti (Project Team Leaders)
Eran Ben-Joseph, MIT Professor
Nelson\Nygaard, Urban Mobility Consultants
Buro Happold, Structural Engineers
Simon Design Engineering, Parking Garage Engineers

More about Civic Arches

Download the PDF (6MB) that shows all the details about this design.

Read a Q&A with Tim Love and Elizabeth Christoforetti of Utile, Inc.

Watch a video of Tim Love unveiling the design.

More about ParkingPLUS

Find out about the potential economic benefits of the ParkingPLUS designs.

Read about how to finance parking garages, and why it pays to build them in downtown and train station areas.

Learn more about the ParkingPLUS design challenge.