01 April 2014

A Really Nice Parking Garage

In February, my wife and I visited my daughter in Sarasota, Florida. Sarasota is a small city with a gorgeous gulf coast location, a compact downtown, shops, restaurants, a delightful cocktail lounge that hides behind a sandwich shop, and a really, really, nice parking garage!

I wasn’t thrilled to discover that I’m the kind of person who notices parking garages.

But I really like the building.

The Palm Avenue garage’s rectangular bones are softened by curved panels. The building is a big box, but the panels do a good job of hiding that. They also break up the horizontal stripes that usually shout “Look at me!  I hold parked cars!”

The wrapping does its job well. It’s made from perforated sheets of what is probably aluminum. I like the industrial look of the back side, too.  The panels, however, are not the best feature of this garage.
The best feature of this garage is how it interacts with Palm Avenue. Check out the wide sidewalks and the café tables.

The entire Palm Avenue side of the garage is retail. The couple in the picture is going into a restaurant, and down the block (you can barely see them in the picture) is a large group of elegantly dressed ladies and gentlemen attending an art gallery reception.

The retail space isn’t shallow either. The cars are just visible through the lit door at the back.

So, how did they pull this off? In the map below you can see North Palm Avenue running from the middle left to the lower right. Cars enter and exit the garage from the alley (it’s unnamed on the map) next to the empty lot in the upper left. The other sides are both in the interior of the block and back up to other buildings across narrow, unnamed, access roads.

The garage is centrally located in downtown near the harbor. It’s close to restaurants, theaters, shops, and residential buildings. It is a reasonably attractive building and its an integral part of an active street scene.

It is a really nice parking garage.

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