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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Santa Monica Civic Center Parking Structure, Santa Monica, United States

MRY set about transforming the parking structure
The parking structure designates a new gateway for a downtown Civic Center. It provides 900 parking spaces on six levels above and two below grade while visually uniting diverse civic buildings. The challenge was to create architecture out of a common building type, one not associated with high design standards.

The four sides of the building acknowledge the urban contexts; retail at the pedestrian level expands the civic edge, creating a destination. A café on the main terrace animates the pedestrian flow to the Civic Center, while gardens and sculptures highlight inside and outside of the building.

Photovoltaic panels on the roof provide much of the building's energy needs. All façades allow natural ventilation and illumination to enter all floors. Ceilings are painted white to maximise the quality of light and airiness. Multicoloured glass panels welcome day-lighting into the structure, decreasing the amount of artificial light that is generally needed for this type of building while adding a glowing beauty to the interior by day and a luminous exterior by night.

Parking on eight floors is accessed via a circulation spine. The vertical cores are positioned to major paths. Access and exits are consolidated at building corners to channel traffic towards destination points.

The design does not disguise the utilitarian nature of the building, but celebrates its aesthetic. The solution uses a varied material palette; coloured laminated glass channels, photovoltaic panels, ribbed pre-cast concrete, and steel mesh, creating a vibrant urban curtain.

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