Given that parking garages exist at all (and not in our perfect, car-free world – except maybe for skateboarding antics), there’s no reason they need to be so unsightly. Austin suffers excessively from this type of urban aesthetic nuisance and, for better or worse, plants the repulsive structures outdoors for everyone to see.
In doesn’t have to be like that. On Tuesday, Architizer, an influential design / construction product location, and the more down-to-earth airport car park, Looking4, were named one of the top 10 coolest parking spaces – places where there has obviously been some thought and engineering work, often by reputable architectural firms – a necessary evil that visual is mandatory or at least easier on the eyes.
On the list is an Austin parking lot designed by award-winning local company Danze Blood Architects. The company grabbed its top 10 spot with its design for the local branding agency T3’s North Lamar office, a type of institutional / modernist building from 1952. Danze Blood was also the architect for the interior renovation and redesign of this building. This was originally the office of the Texas Medical Association.
Located on a sophisticated hillside lot behind T3’s offices, the garage has a low impact design with overlapping steel grids on the outside that act as grids for grapevines that eventually form living green walls and allow the building to visually retreat into the hillside . The garage also has a planted green roof that acts as a retention basin for a rainwater collection system, creating a happy spot for birds and other wildlife. Ten Eyck Landscape Architects from Austin created the landscaping, an integral part of the project.
The interior of the helical concrete structure is designed around a central element that provides light and visual transparency for safety reasons and makes it easier for drivers to orientate themselves.
The list sponsors are running a competition to reach the top 10. The T3 garage faces some formidable competition and could be ousted from one of the top spots, but you never know. Even so, it’s still a pretty big win for downtown Austin.