Does a Garage Have to Look Like a Garage?


Wind Silos, International Trade Center parking facility, Charlotte, NC, 2006. Photo by Ned Kahn

Wind Veil by Ned Kahn, Gateway Village, Charlotte, NC.
Photo by Ned Kahn

Passing Light, 2003 PhenomenArts, Inc., Christopher Janney, Artistic Director

2009 PhenomenArts, Inc., Christopher Janney, Artistic Director

Public art integrated into the façade of a parking structure.
Image credit: Gary Hirsch

Clayton Lane Parking Structure, Denver, CO, 2006.
Image credit: Ed LaCasse courtesy of RNL

Francis Marion Hotel Parking Facility, Charleston, SC, 1996. Photo by Shannon Sanders McDonald, AIA


A parking garage can become a work of art: the façade of the International Trade Center parking facility in Charlotte, North Carolina, moves and captures the light of the sky. Creator Ned Kahn, an environmental artist and sculptor, designed a series of undulating metal screens—Wind Silos—which cover the parking structure’s façade. For the façade of another garage in Charlotte, Kahn created the Wind Veil, covering it with 80,000 small aluminum panels that are hinged to move freely in the wind, giving the impression of waves in a field of metallic grass.

Not just nice to look at, multimedia artist Christopher Janney’s Passing Light creates a colorful path of reflected light, helping direct travelers to the airport terminal (view it in action). Parking in Color, another work by Janney, was recently completed at the Fort Worth Convention Center Parking Garage and is part of Janney’s Urban Musical Instruments series.

Portland, Oregon, has implemented a Public Art Program for its parking facilities. The public art delights and enlivens the community, with many different artists participating.

Garages can also be designed to blend seamlessly into established streetscapes. With glass stairwells and plenty of light, the Clayton Lane parking structure in Denver, Colorado, blends with the larger streetscape and projects an open, inviting presence. In Charleston, South Carolina, the Francis Marion Hotel parking facility is nicely integrated into the historic streetscape, helping maintain a pedestrian scale.