For owners willing to make the investment, “future proofing” parking can provide a long-term, cost-efficient and sustainable solution that keeps tomorrow in mind. enclose the building for an alternative use, the facade should be designed for flexibility. Exterior cladding such as metal mesh, louvered panels, or perforated metal panels is often added to a parking garage to obscure view of the cars while still maintaining openness. Since this will need to be replaced with walls and windows, the attachment of the cladding should be designed for easy removal. Likewise, precast or cable rails are desirable guardrail systems as they can be easily removed in the future and provide flexibility to incorporate walk-out balconies.
Going For The Short-term ROI
Many owners evaluating this issue are exploring a more cost-effective approach that still provides flexibility for changes in future demand, such as designing only a ground level for adaptive reuse. The effect of structural, occupancy, and drainage considerations is far less on ground levels than on upper levels. Assuming the soil is sufficient to avoid a structural slab on grade, many of the high cost issues are avoided. This level of reuse design may be achieved for a relatively small increase in the construction cost of less than 10 percent. This approach is being implemented by both public and private entities alike. To future-proof its new Government Center parking structure, San Mateo County elected to have the ground floor designed with increased floor-to-floor heights compatible with human uses. The structure will also use an express ramp instead of a park on ramp, which preserves the full footprint of the ground floor for alternative use. Likewise, the ground floor of the Intermodal Transportation Facility-West Parking Structure, part of the Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP) at Los Angeles International Airport, is also being designed with higher floor-to-floor heights to provide flexibility for future needs. Another way to provide flexibility is designing for density. Mechanical and automated parking systems often require floor-to-floor heights compatible with adaptive reuse. As these systems can easily be removed, parking supply can be adjusted as needed, and the mechanical and automated systems even
removed entirely. This is the approach being taken with Telegraph Tower in Oakland, Calif. Should parking demand change in the future, the parking levels could be converted to other occupied spaces.
Considering the Long-term Game
Designing flexibility beyond the ground floor and into upper levels requires greater upfront investment; fully designing an entire structure for adaptive reuse can increase cost by 40 percent or more, which can give many owners pause. However, when viewed as an investment in the full life of the development, it can potentially provide a more cost effective way to reap development benefits down the road by paying for a future project in today’s dollars. In addition to the long-term cost benefits, building for later adaptive reuse also provides a more sustainable development approach in the event demand for a parking facility decreases in the future. Converting an existing parking structure to an alternative use is a much more sustainable approach than demolishing it and building something new in its place. For owners willing to make the investment, “future proofing” parking can provide a long-term, cost-efficient and sustainable solution that keeps tomorrow in mind. Parking structures are a significant investment. Designing them for adaptive reuse, be it full or only partial conversion, provides flexibility to accommodate future changes in parking demand and get more out of that investment. Whether you go for the short or long term game, having options to choose from greatly assists owns and developers in making a decision that is right for their vision. ◆ JESS MCINERNEY is principal with Watry Design. He can be reached at jmcinerney@ watrydesign.com.
MATT DAVIS is principal with Watry Design. He can be reached at mdavis@ watrydesign.com
PARKING-MOBILITY.ORG / AUGUST 2021 / PARKING & MOBILITY 29