Exploring Parking’s Potential


Miami’s new parking garage at 1111 Lincoln Road
Photo: Iwan Baan Studio.

Kyocera Solar Grove in San Diego, California
Kyocera Solar Grove: © Envision Solar

Santa Monica, California Civic Center LEED-Certified Parking Structure
Photo: © John Edward Linden


It’s rare to find a parking structure that has been designed with people and community in mind. But it turns out they can be designed better. Take Miami, Florida’s much lauded 1111 Lincoln Road, a mixed-use parking structure that was hailed by New Yorker architecture critic Paul Goldberger as a place where “cars are a centerpiece rather than a dirty secret…[cars] sit on strikingly thin elegant concrete slabs, like canapés on a stack of trays.”

1111 Lincoln Road’s  boutiques, restaurants, and residences are all secondary to the main event—the parking facility—where weddings receptions have been held! Designed by starchitects Herzog & de Meuron, the structure is considered to be one of the best architectural designs of 2010.

Net-zero energy parking facilities are not only a reality, but should be common practice. Facilities such as these not only give back energy to the grid, but they can lower the community’s energy costs as well. And instead of being an eyesore, the parking garage can become an important part of the urban fabric, even becoming a community hub if approached as part of a larger system-wide design solution. At the Kyocera Solar Grove in San Diego, California, 25 solar trees with 1,400 solar photovoltaic modules not only offer improved daylighting and aesthetic appeal, they also generate an average of 431,000 kilowatt hours annually. That’s enough to power 68 single-family homes in San Diego.

The Santa Monica Civic Center Parking Structure, in Santa Monica, California, was built in 2008 and is the first LEED-certified parking facility. From the solar panels on the roof to the low-e glazing, rainwater harvesting for landscaping, electric charging stations, and street-level retail uses within the structure, this parking garage is a complement to the community.