Weaving Into the Fabric
For new construction projects, architects can strategically configure structural elements to increase the amount of daylight entering the parking garages. For the 3,400-space Terminal C Parking Garage at Newark Liberty International Airport, Clarke Caton Hintz created an open atmosphere by working with Mt. Prospect, Ill.–based Consulting Engineers Group to reduce the number of shear walls in the structural design and relying, instead, on precast moment-resistant frames for the primary lateral forces. The design team also specified 11-foot-9-inch floor-to-ceiling heights to allow more light and air through the facility, which is significantly taller than the typical code mandate of 7 feet as well as the ADA requirement of 9 feet 6 inches. The designers also broke up the facility’s massive floor plates and added 40-foot-by-80-foot light wells that penetrate all four garage levels, shedding natural light on the garage’s rock gardens and pedestrian benches at grade.
Perhaps the most significant architectural gesture of the facility is Clarke Caton Hintz’s design for the facility’s vertical circulation. “We added glass elevators and escalators so that folks rushing to catch their plane would see the parking garage as an extension of the terminal and not so much as [a] separate experience,” Hibbs says. The glass elevators, combined with the parking structure’s precast concrete structure, mimic the swooping concrete ceilings and glass curtainwalls of the 1970s terminal.
The firm’s penultimate neighborhood-friendly parking garage may be the Ruppert Plaza Garage in New York. Sited on 7.2 acres, the two-story, 1,500-space facility sits directly across from the home plate entrance of the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, adjacent to Heritage Field, the public baseball field located on the site of the former Yankee stadium.
To extend the experience of Heritage Field as an attraction for the community—and to compensate for parkland lost to development—New York City specified that the parking structure’s roof would host Macombs Dam Park. The rooftop park, which covers the structure’s entire footprint, features a synthetic football/soccer field, a running track, and basketball and handball courts. The west side of the field has bleacher seating for 600 people as well as restrooms and storage facilities, while a fitness circuit and misting stations occupy the park’s south end. On the perimeter, landscaped gardens planted with a mix of ornamental grasses and trees buffer the park from the city.
To blend the parking structure into its green context, the architects sunk the grade of the site 11 feet beneath the grade of Heritage Park and clad the exterior precast concrete columns and spandrels in brick veneer glazed in four hues of green. They also specified a warm gray tone to the precast concrete mix to help it complement the greens. “It feels very naturalistic, like dappled sunlight,” Hibbs says.
To connect Heritage Field and Macombs Dam Park, which are separated by a significant difference in elevation, the architects designed a berm against the retaining wall of a 700-foot-long-by-12-foot-wide airshaft, which provides daylight and natural ventilation into the parking facility, and spanned the shaft with pedestrian bridges. Visitors can move effortlessly between the two recreational areas by climbing the berm and crossing the bridges with hardly any notion that a parking garage is in the vicinity.