Monday, April 07, 2008

The Parking Garage: Design and Evolution of a Modern Urban Form

ULI NEWS              

The History of Parking Garages Points the Way to Innovative and

Sustainable Designs for the Future


The Parking Garage: Design and Evolution of a Modern Urban Form by Shannon Sanders McDonald

Showcases the Unique History of a Crucial Building Type


WASHINGTON (April 7, 2008)—While most people want to ignore, cover up, or put parking lots underground, architect Shannon Sanders McDonald explores their rich history and calls for their continued evolution as important modern-day structures in the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) new publication, The Parking Garage: Design and Evolution of a Modern Urban Form.


“The parking garage defines how people live and what industrialized society has become. It is a crucial building form that lies at the intersection of architecture, transportation, sustainability, and urban design,” says McDonald.


Vividly illustrated with hundreds of photographs, the book highlights best practices and demonstrates how well-designed parking positively affects project success and the urban environment. Two critical components of the book include showcasing sustainability––including green roofs, bicycle garages, and a review of environmentally friendly construction methods––and focusing on the need for a holistic approach to garage development.


According to McDonald, “The most important task today in garage design is to determine the unique needs of a particular location—not just now, but for the future—and to respond to those needs holistically: with an understanding of past solutions, a willingness to innovate, and a respect for the aesthetics, the functionality, and the social fabric of the surroundings.” 


McDonald argues that the parking garage represents an unresolved tension about modern life. On one hand, automobiles—the transportation system on which most people in the industrialized world depend—provides unique and unparalleled mobility. On the other, the parking garage is a large, imposing, desolate, and often stark structure—a physical manifestation of the realities of automobile-dependent cultures.


By examining this tension, McDonald brings to life the seemingly mundane history of the parking garage. Using an architect’s perspective, she chronicles the evolution and future of innovations from early elevator and ramp designs, through the modern, sustainable structures of today.


The Parking Garage: Design and Evolution of a Modern Urban Form (Urban Land Institute, 2007, ISBN 978-0-87420-998-3) is available at and through the Urban Land Institute: or call 1-800-321-5011. The price is $87.95.


For more information, contact Peggy Meehan by e-mail at or at 202-332-2303.


The Urban Land Institute ( is a global nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 38,000 members representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.