Future $ense

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$ense Does designing garages with an eye—and a budget—toward future re-adaptation make realistic sense? A conversation with industry experts.



IKIPEDIA DEFINES adaptive reuse as “the aesthetic process that adapts buildings for new uses while retaining their historic features. Using an adaptive reuse model can prolong a building’s life, from cradle to grave, by retaining all or most of the building system, including the structure, the shell, and even the interior materials.” Alternatively, ThoughtCo.com defines it as “the process of repurposing buildings—old buildings that have outlived their original purposes—for different uses or functions while at the same time retaining their historic features.” Although most parking garages won’t qualify for the historic part, adaptive reuse has become part of our everyday vernacular. And though we have seen a smattering of successful (and creative) examples, our industry remains at a crossroads. Trying to plan ahead from a long-term real estate perspective isn’t straightforward. How do you design a building for a 30- to 50- (or even 75-) year lifespan when we anticipate massive shifts in demand for the building type? And hey, when are those shifts going to happen anyway?

We have lots of questions and we know you do, too. So we asked some of our close personal friends (and IPMI subject matter experts) what’s on the horizon and how best to plan for the future. When do you think transportation network companies (TNCs) and autonomous vehicles (AVs) will start to have a significant enough effect on parking demand that clients will need to look at converting a portion of their parking structure to another use?

Matt Davis, Associate Principal, Watry Design, Inc.

TNCs have already had an impact on parking demand, especially at hotels and off-airport parking. AVs have not affected parking yet, but the technology is expected to begin to be rolled out in the next five to 10 years, and we anticipate them to continue to develop and begin to have an impact around 2040. Because of this, some of our clients are already considering adaptive reuse concepts in their new parking facilities to provide more flexibility moving forward.

John Bushman, PE, President and CEO, Walker Consultants

That depends on the use. Some hotels and entertainment facilities are feeling the effects of TNCs now. Hotels may need to strategize on how to fill empty spaces with other parkers or uses in the next couple of years. Office parking may not see a significant reduction for another 10 years. It will be at least 20 years before AVs will have an impact on parking demand.

James Anderson, Regional Sales Manager, Watson Bowman Acme Corp.

We are currently at the cusp of a technology and transportation evolution with artificial intelligence (AI), alternative fuels, and mobility network choices altering the metropolitan landscape. It is difficult to predict and plan for the effects of these multifaceted advances with any degree of certainty. Nevertheless, it is essential to recognize and monitor the potential of these advancements and their implications to your circumstances with a possible three-, five-, or 10-year assimilation horizon.

Michael App, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, Director of Architecture, TimHaahs

We believe owners and operators need to begin considering these issues now. The degree of their effects will vary greatly based on locality, with more impact in downtown urban areas than in suburban areas. While the future is uncertain about what will happen, we believe that this tipping point will not happen for many years. What are the challenges in converting an existing parking structure that was originally not designed for adaptive reuse?

Jonathan Brown, Regional Manager, SP+:

One of the biggest issues will be building the structure to spec for residential compliance. Ceiling height comes to mind as well as infrastructure for plumbing and electrical. Also, exterior openings that will fit windows/doors. External appearance with the installation and heating/cooling. THE PARKING PROFESSIONAL | MAY 2019 | PARKING-MOBILITY.ORG !37

Matt Davis, Watry Design, Inc.

The challenges in converting an existing parking structure that was not designed for adaptive reuse are that the clearances will not be appropriate for occupied space; the elevated decks, foundations, and lateral-force resisting systems will need to be strengthened; and additional stairs and exit width will need to be provided. In addition, the parking decks are most likely sloped to drain instead of being flat.

John Bushman, PE, Walker Consultants

The floor-to-floor height is usually the biggest challenge. Unless there is at least 14 feet floor-to-floor, it is pretty much a non-starter. Even with high floor-tofloor heights, it typically is only feasible to convert the ground level.

Michael App, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, TimHaahs

Similar to the planning required for creating an adaptive-ready new garage, an existing garage will need to be surveyed to confirm headroom clearances, confirm capacity of the structural slab, identify locations for vertical utility chases, confirm egress capacity, etc. A plan will need to be created for remediation of any of the shortcomings.

John Hammerschlag, President, Hammerschlag & Co., Inc.

Building a garage for the future instead of today may result in a flat floor design when sloping floors (think double helix) would provide a superior functional design. Also, the floor-to-floor depth would be greater, resulting in steeper ramps, which lower the service level, and extra facade, causing higher construction costs. What are the challenges in designing new parking structures to be converted to another use in the future?

Matt Davis, Watry Design, Inc.

There are many challenges associated with designing new parking structures to have the flexibility to be converted to another use in the future. Foremost among the challenges are the need for 15-foot clearances for office uses along with flat floors. Parking structures usually have approximately seven- to eight-foot clearances with floors


that slope to drain. In addition, parking structure elevated decks are designed to support half the loads of an office, and the exiting demands for occupied space are greater than for a parking use. So these challenges equate to significant added upfront cost.

John Bushman, PE, Walker Consultants

No one wants to spend the money on it! It likely will be more economical to design it so a portion can be torn down in the future and provide a site for a new building.

Jeremy Rocha, PE, Senior Project Manager, WGI, Inc.

The major challenge of designing new parking structures to be converted to another use in the future is the unknown. Planning five years out is a challenge because of the ebbs and flow of parking. Within five years, tweaks to parking operations, incorporating valet, or changing parking rates can completely change parking dynamics. This plays a major role in determining how the garage will be converted in the future. What is the cost premium and which clients are willing to pay for it?

Jeremy Rocha, PE, WGI, Inc.

The cost premium could be significant depending on the project constraints (footprint, site, height restrictions, etc.). The majority of cost premium comes from tweaks of the structure design and upgrading the MEP systems to meet occupied space code requirements. For example, general structural clearance heights for a garage are seven feet; in occupied spaces they are around 10 or higher depending on the use. The clients most likely willing to pay for this cost premium are owners that will retain the parking asset for the life of the structure—educational institutions, health care facilities, and municipalities.

Jonathan Brown, SP+

From what I am experiencing, clients are more reluctant to invest in the speculative notion that this is happening sooner than later. If there was a more concrete date associated with this change, we may have more buy-in.

Matt Davis, Watry Design, Inc.

The cost premium varies depending on how far a client wants to go but could be anywhere from 10 to 25

Our Panelists James Anderson percent. We have seen forward-looking clients such as technology companies show interest in this as well as some municipalities.

John Bushman, PE, Walker Consultants

Designing a new parking structure to accommodate future conversion to another use can easily be a 20 to 30 percent cost premium. This is too big of a gamble for even most institutional clients.

Michael App, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, TimHaahs

Our studies, as well as studies by our vendors and cost-estimating partners, are showing that the cost premiums to make the garage adaptable could conservatively result in an increase to the base construction cost estimate of between 25 and 30 percent. What are you recommending clients do to prepare for the future?

Jeremy Rocha, PE, WGI, Inc.

We let owners know the full implications of designing structures for future conversions. We allow the conversation to run from full to limited conversation (limited means converting maybe only the top levels). The goal of the conversation is not to deter owners from exploring adaptive reuse but to better inform and prepare them.

Matt Davis, Watry Design, Inc.

Due to the high cost of engineering all elevated decks to support occupied space and the impracticality of building all levels to have 15 feet of clear space, we recommend that clients who want flexibility to adapt to parking demand changes in the future consider providing a tall ground level with 15 feet

clear. Assuming the ground level is slab on grade, this is easily accommodated structurally, and the exiting concerns are easily addressed. This adds less than 10 percent to construction cost. As a bonus, this would provide the client with the flexibility to add mechanical lifts on the ground level to either densify existing parking or increase capacity should parking demand rise, which is very possible for office, restaurant, or entertainment uses.

John Bushman, PE, Walker Consultants

Plan for parts of the facility to be converted such as the grade level, not the upper floors. For a large structure, provide an expansion joint so that a portion of the structure can be torn down, providing a site for another building.

Michael App, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, TimHaahs

With our clients, we are discussing the potential for conversion of the ground tier and possibly planning for an overbuild/top-tier conversion. We are following the trend of the greater use of electric vehicles and are recommending overinvestment in electric-vehicle charging stations. We are also recognizing the renewed emphasis on multi-modal transit networks and are encouraging our clients to make facilities that serve more transportation options than just the personally owned vehicle.

Regional Sales Manager Watson Bowman Acme Corp.

Michael App, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB Director of Architecture TimHaahs

Jonathan Brown Regional Manager SP+

John Bushman, PE President and CEO Walker Consultants

Matt Davis

Associate Principal Watry Design

John Hammerschlag President Hammerschlag & Co., Inc.

Jeremy Rocha, PE

Senior Project Manager WGI, Inc.

Special thanks to the IPMI Planning, Design, and Construction Committee for its expertise and contributions on this article—as well as the committee’s work throughout the committee season.

Jonathan Brown, Regional Manager, SP+:

We are bringing this into the discussion with new parking structures. The common rebuttal is the additional cost associated with the construction and planning. It’s difficult to plan for something you don’t have all the details for just yet. THE PARKING PROFESSIONAL | MAY 2019 | PARKING-MOBILITY.ORG !39

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