The parking lot: the unsung manmade innovation that piggybacks on the ingenuity of modern engineering and the sensibilities of capitalism. We’ve all had to endure the painstaking process of weaving through the lanes, winding around the sharp corners and squeezing into the tight spaces as we search for the perfect parking spot. And while you may have thought that you landed the most amazing parking spot of all time the other day when you got your groceries, you’d be wrong. Allow me to present you with something truly amazing in the realm of parking: the 10 most unique parking garages in the world.
If you’ve ever visited Chicago then you’ve seen the two “corn cob” towers that comprise Marina City. Completed in 1964, Marina City was originally designed by Bertrand Goldberg to be a small town square in the heart of the city. The upper half of Marina City is home to 450 different apartments and offices while the lower half is dedicated to parking, with 896 parking spaces per building. The towers of Marina City were made famous in the 1979 Steve McQueen film The Hunter, in which a 1980 Pontiac ends a dramatic car chase by launching off of one of the towers into the Chicago River below.
Umihotaru was prophesized by Joni Mitchell when she said “they paved paradise, put up a parking lot”; ok, not really. What Umihotaru actually is, is a manmade island in the middle of the Tokyo Bay Aqualine – a bridge/tunnel combination that connects the city of Kawasaki with the city of Kisarazu across the Tokyo Bay. Basically Umihotaru is a high-scale rest-stop that was designed in the shape of a cruise liner. Because of its many shops, restaurants and art displays it is a destination unto itself – more than just a pit stop.
I don’t think that any writer throughout history has written a book with the expressed intent of their work prominently on display as part of a parking facility; The Community Bookshelf is pretty cool nonetheless. The Community Bookshelf was completed in 2004 and adorns the exterior of the Central branch of the Kansas City Library downtown. On display are the spines of 22 different titles including Catch-22, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Lord of the Rings.
Not only does the parking garage of the Santa Monica Civic Center have the appeal of a brightly-decorated Christmas tree, but it’s also mostly powered by clean energy. Due to a combined use of solar energy, water use reduction and encouragement of using alternative forms of transportation, it is the first building of its kind to be LEED-certified. Along with the 900 parking spots available for conventional vehicles, the Civic Center’s garage also has additional parking and storage for electric cars and bicycles.
Autostadt is German for “Automobile City,” which is a perfect name for this “parking garage” affixed to the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. Similar to Marina City, the Autostadt features two 20-story car silos. The car silos aren’t just for show either – you can actually select one of the models on display and watch as the robotic platform delivers it from the shelf right to you. Welcome to the future.
Along with the Autostadt, Parkhaus Engelnschanze is another phenomenal German parking structure. Parkhaus Engelenschanze was designed to make its visitors feel comfortable and at ease – as many parking garages. With this in mind, the garage has an all-glass exterior that lets in as much natural light as possible. The peaceful aesthetic is heightened by an inner courtyard complete with a waterfall and a creek.
1111 N Lincoln Road has been a staple of Miami tourism ever since its completion in 2010. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron to look like a house of cards, the parking garage has a modernity in its style and can accommodate up to 300 vehicles. 1111 N Lincoln Road has several retail shops at street level and houses a restaurant where you can get a spectacular ocean view.
The Eureka tower is the tallest building in Melbourne, Australia and is home to one of the truly unique parking garages. Eureka Car Park was designed by graphic designer Alex Peemoeller, who employed a 3-D chalk drawing technique to transform regular directions into visual puzzles. While you may think that these visual puzzles might make for a confusing parking experience, they are all based on colors: Red = out, Green = in, blue = up and yellow = down. Hopefully you can also read too.
Paul de Reiter designed the Veranda Car Park to change the image of large commercial buildings of its kind. Instead of the traditional “block shape” that many buildings and parking structures have, Veranda Car Park has smooth, rounded edges made of aluminum and glass that give it a futuristic look. Veranda Car Park is another parking structure that was designed to ensure that its inhabitants felt safe – the central open area is 16×22 meters, allowing plenty of natural light and fresh air in.
The last parking garage on our list is the Herma Parking Building in South Korea. Herma is another parking structure whose sleek design makes it look like something from the future. JOHO architecture designed Herma with over 600 polycarbonate and 900 stainless steel panels to form its luminescent exterior. Herma’s design structure features precision openings spread out across the building. In this way Herma is an innovation in architecture and a reminder about the importance of energy/material consumption.
- The 20 Coolest Parking Lots in the World
- 11 Stunning Parking Garage Designs with a Contemporary Flair
- The World’s 18 Strangest Parking Garages
- The Most Amazing Parking Spaces in the World