Given that parking garages exist at all (and in our perfect, car-free world wouldn’t need to—except perhaps for skateboarding antics), there’s no reason they have to be so ungainly. Austin suffers unduly from this kind of aesthetic urban blight, planting the off-putting structures willy nilly, out in the open for everyone to see.
In doesn’t have to be that way, though. On Tuesday, influential design/building product site Architizer and more down-to-earth-sounding airport-parking site Looking4 named its Top 10 Coolest Parking Spots—places where it’s obvious some thought and engineering, often by renowned architecture firms, went into making a necessary evil visually compelling, or at least easier on the eyes.
On the list is an Austin car park designed by award-winning local firm Danze Blood Architects. The firm nabbed its top-10 spot with its design for locally based branding agency T3’s North Lamar office, a sort of institutional/modernist-style structure built in 1952. Danze Blood was also the architect for the interior renovation and redesign of that building, which was originally the office of the Texas Medical Association.
Sited on a challenging hillside lot behind T3’s offices, the garage has a low-impact design, with overlapping steel screens along the exterior that serve as a trellis for vines that will eventually create living green walls, allowing the building to recede visually into the hillside. The garage also has a planted green roof that serves as detention pond for its a rainwater collection system and creates a happy place for birds and other wildlife. Austin-based Ten Eyck Landscape Architects designed 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 security reasons and to make it easier for drivers to orient themselves.
The sponsoring companies of the list are holding a competition to rank the top 10. The T3 garage faces some formidable competitors and might get edged out of one of the top spots, but you never know. As these things go, it’s still a pretty big win for central Austin.