The Potential of Automated Parking


Garage Rue de Ponthieu, Paris, France, 1905:The first automated parking garage. Image Credit: “Notes from Paris”, Architectural Review 24 (1908).

One York, New York, NY: Inside of an automated facility in a high end residential tower that provides parking within.
Image Credit: Jani Real Estate, One York, NY courtesy Ryan Astrup of Park Plus

7 State Circle, Annapolis, MD.: Across from the State Capital of Maryland, on an historical brick paved street is the entry to the automated parking garage.
Image credit: Shannon Sanders McDonald, AIA


The very first automated parking facility was built in 1905 in Paris, on the Rue de Ponthieu. It was designed by Auguste Perret, a civil engineer and architect who belonged to a family of builders. The reason for the automation then was the same as it is today – a small piece of land and a need to park as many cars as possible on it.

Automated parking has never been the norm in the United States. Ever since the invention of the automobile, we’ve had so much land for development and an accompanying desire to remain in control of our shiny new toys that we continued (and continue) to build parking lots and garages with abandon. Though automated parking gained popularity in the 1920s and 1950s (big eras both for advances in the automobile), the sprawling lot has reigned supreme.

That may be changing: new automated parking facilities can now be found in dense downtowns such as Washington, DC; New York; Chicago; and Los Angeles. Computer-driven technology is used to operate horizontal and vertical transport devices. The turntables, lifts, and moving platforms characteristic of early facilities are still part of the technology, but many different types of systems now exist to address any parking challenge. Even smaller cities like Annapolis, Maryland, and Hoboken, New Jersey, have new automated facilities. The reason for this is simple: needing to maximize parking on a small piece of land. As the cost of traditional ramp parking escalates, the cost of automated parking can be competitive, especially when combined in design as part of the overall project.

Automated parking has many advantages, but first and foremost it allows the cubic volume required for parking each car to be reduced dramatically. This helps facilitate maintenance of historic areas and creation of small-scale, walkable downtowns. Parking structures can also be designed to look like any other building on the street; hidden within a building; integrated into other building types in a supportive way, as part of the structure; or can even become an aesthetically pleasing visual statement. Though unfamiliar to many, automated facilities are easy and safe to use. I suspect we’ll be seeing much more of them in the not-too-distant future.

For further information:
Lift sliding lot
Automated parking at One York
Paranoia-Free Parking