Thursday Salute to Originals: Parking Garage Pizazz

Ever notice how some spaces seem to get forgotten (or downright ignored) in the design world? Like the proverbial ugly stepchild of design, places like gas station restrooms and public building stairwells rarely get the time of day, let alone any extra TLC from a keen design eye. In fact, it seems most of us cringe at the thought of having to inhabit either of these – or any of those other forgotten places – for too long. (Don’t worry, we feel the same way!) So we were quite pleasantly surprised when we came across another overlooked structure – the parking garage – finally getting some well-deserved design attention.

Take the design of the Eureka Tower Car Park in Melbourne, Australia for instance. While its concrete structure is relatively run-of-the-mill, what really makes this parking garage memorable is the inventive signage.

Parking Garage Graphic Design

Designer Axel Peemoeller created ingenious way finding graphics that morph depending on your perspective. When viewed at just the right angle, large, clear signage appears, easily directing traffic within the garage; no circling around the garage endlessly just to find the down ramp here. And when seen from other angles, the signage functions more as funky, abstract art, giving the parking garage an unforgettable, yet functional, personality.

Graphic Wall Design at Carpark in Australia

Or consider this parking garage in Detroit’s former Michigan Theater. Abandoned in the 1970’s, the magnificent Michigan Theater, clad with crystal chandeliers and gilded cherubs, was slated to be demolished. When it was determined the demolishment would compromise the structural stability of an adjoining building, plans changed, and a parking garage was built smack dab in the interior of the theater.

Historic Building Parking Garage Renovation

Michigan Theater Parking Garage Renovation Architecture

Though a little unusual to say the least, this parking garage is certainly more interesting and – dare we say it – beautiful than other fellow parking lots. The adaptive reuse of this once glamorous theater makes stowing your car an unforgettable experience steeped history and former grandeur of the 1920’s.

And last but not least, take a peek at the Museum Parking Garage by Rawcut in the Swiss city of Lucerne.

Parking Garage Yellow Wall Graphics

In an otherwise unremarkable space, the bold silhouettes of iconic automobiles instantly bring the garage to life. Not only do the graphics provide an interesting and interactive way finding solution (it’s much easier to remember you’re parked at the VW Bug than spot 3-C-583), but it makes parking an almost personal experience, with each slot boasting a distinct character.

The take-home lesson here is that with a little consideration and ingenuity, even the most devoid and seemingly uninspiring spaces can become a beacon for innovative design. And with that in mind, we salute those who used that very philosophy to make the above parking garages possible. And we further tip our hats to all those who see the dynamic potential in the most unforgotten and unloved places everywhere! Let’s hope a revamp of those gas station restrooms is next!

Image credits: Graphique Fantastique, Urban Ghosts, Krunkatecture