Converting parking garages to spaces for people

One of the things I often wonder while walking around cities is what we’ll do with all our parking garages when demand for parking falls significantly below our current supply. I like to imagine them as offices, apartments, gyms and stores. After all, these structures are extremely solid and may well outlast their usefulness as car storage facilities.


There’s also some evidence that driving is tapering off.

Wide scale conversion of parking structures may yet be a while off in the U.S., but Slate recently reported on a parking structure that has been converted to a cool hotel in Paris. The Slate post is mostly about the interior design trick of placing two mirrors opposite each other to make a room feel larger, but the underlying point that parking structures can be repurposed is an important one.

In the case of the Paris hotel, the designer also retained much of structure’s original concrete aesthetic, resulting in a sleek modern look. That too offers a lesson: parking structures may be the warehouse lofts of tomorrow. Just as it probably would have been inconceivable for early 20th Century factor workers to imagine people wanting to live in their grungy places of work, it might be difficult for us today to imagine wanting to live in an adapted parking structure.

But time changes tastes, so in the end we’ll hopefully get second and third uses out of one the more common elements in many cities. After all, they’re already there and converting them will likely be vastly cheaper and easier than tearing them down.




  1. Brad Bartholomew

    I would love to see the parking garages in SLC to convert their street level to shops. Even little shops that are affordable for small business’s to open, they would be perfect to sell flowers, souvenirs, or just about anything.

    • jimmycdii

      I love the idea of converting them on the ground level and incrementally decreasing the amount of parking. I know I read a lot about how there’s a general push the get people to put retail on the bottom floor of parking structures, but I have no idea how strong that push might be in SLC.

  2. Pingback: More on converting parking garages to human spaces | About Town

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