With the global need for parking spaces a growing concern in large cities, multi-story car parks still seem to be the most economical solution to finding a parking stall for millions of drivers. Cars are still the choice for many commuters and travelers, and are joining the roads in the United States by the thousands each year. Automated garages are a very expensive solution at the moment, and parking lots take up valuable square footage with less impact. Multi-story garages come in many shapes and sizes, but can be boiled down to two types of layouts, above and underground garages. Both above and underground parking have their advantages, but what are they, and what could be the more favorable parking structure in future city planning?
Underground parking structures seem to be the most beneficial in terms of safety, city planning, and ecology. By moving the garage underground, sunlight and view obstruction, as well as thermal pollution are greatly reduced. Making sure to reduce energy cost and consumption is becoming a major deciding factor for many building sites, as conservation and environmental friendliness becomes a priority. The Green Business Certification Inc., or GBCI, the credentialing group that oversees such programs such as LEED certification, has even created a unique grouping dedicated specifically to parking structures. Also to be considered, is that the space above the garage is left open for storefronts or residential space. Underground parking garages lack of secondary entrances also helps add another level of security that above ground ramps do not. However, these features come at a price, coming to an average of 50% higher per square foot than above ground garages. Most subterranean lots cost about $75 depending on the city. To many, the benefits and features outweigh the cost difference, but there is another alternative available.
Unlike underground parking garages, above ground are comparatively inexpensive, while retaining many of the features and benefits that an underground lot has. While unable to reduce light and vision obstruction, lower levels of parking garages can be occupied by retail space, and measures made to increase security by limiting secondary access. The design and architecture of above ground lots has gotten much better than early designs as well, so the claustrophobic, dark, enclosed spaces of yore are phased out in favor of more open and functional spaces. The cost of above ground parking garages is the major incentive to choosing this style of layout, where the average square footage cost is around $50. An average of 50% cost savings makes a big impact when the structures are hundreds of thousands of square feet. Between the two main designs, there are many features and benefits to suit the needs of each individual customer.
There are millions upon millions of cars and drivers on the road, with numbers increasing annually. When parking lots seem like an unreasonable solution and automatic systems are still too expensive, garages fill all of the needs of a modern city. With safety, noise and height pollution, space, and cost all deciding factors in the specific application, both above and below ground parking ramps continue to do their job more efficiently than any of the competition. Between the two main styles of designs, above ground structures are less expensive at the cost of aesthetics and environmental impact, while underground lots are more expensive and have less effect on the area they are located. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses, and moving forward are the best solution currently to modern urban parking.