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Exploring the Art of Parking

As we continue to shift our thinking away from parking structures as utilitarian and instead view them as part of a destination, public art creates an opportunity for both new and old structures alike to become a vibrant part of the community they serve. By turning what could be a drab concrete box into an expressive canvas, parking suddenly becomes a means to elevate the experience, create a human connection and celebrate identity.

See how these parking structures have integrated public art that enhances the community, from grand architectural facades to meaningful accents.

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1. This 7 story mural on the San Jose Mineta International Airport ConRAC makes a welcoming statement to visitors by capturing the hands of local residents waving hello and goodbye. The hands are a reflection of the area’s rich diversity, representing the wide range of cultures and languages found in Silicon Valley.

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2. Passengers exiting Terminal 2 at the San Diego International Airport are greeted by three massive, brightly colored public art installations on the exterior of the new Parking Plaza’s three main stair towers. The installations feature hundreds of resin airplanes strung onto steel aircraft cables. Each tower features a different style plane and a unique, vivid color to both celebrate San Diego’s rich aviation history and provide visitors with a creative wayfinding element.

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3. Rather than a traditional façade, American River College’s parking structure features a larger-than-life art installation featuring the college’s own football, tennis, baseball and track stars in action. Taking the form of three 30’ x 30’ durable, nylon fabric panels, the artwork literally provides a backdrop to the adjacent Athletic Center and showcases campus culture.

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4. The City of Mountain view used their parking structure to create a stunning welcome for downtown visitors. Nine panes of vividly colored glass were fused with layers of mineral paint that is further dramatized at night with lighting. This unique piece stands over 30 feet tall and 18 feet wide.

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5. The City of Morgan Hill is the proud home of an unusual festival: the annual Tarantula Fest. To celebrate this unique heritage, the City installed a 12 foot artistic representation of their beloved creepy crawlers on the side of their downtown parking structure. This guaranteed conversation starter is made out of vintage headlights.

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6. Public art was a vital component of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension from Pasadena to Azusa. Each City along the extension saw the new station and parking structure as a gateway, and incorporated art that reflected their urban identity. For the Monrovia station, the artist created ceramic tiles molded from existing tile at the historic Santa Fe Depot next door.

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7. In the City of Santa Barbara, which is renowned for its public art, a set of colorful murals known as the Solstice Celebration Murals adorn the alley of the Granada Garage. Created by artists Richard McLaughlin and Ben Bottoms, the murals received the Hugh Peterson Award for Art in Public Spaces.

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8. The Napa 5th Street Parking structure’s primary facade features a sculpture created out of hubcaps that was commissioned through a competition of artists. The selected local artist also donated an additional companion piece that was installed on the opposite side of the structure. Additional graphic images from the artist were incorporated into the signage design for the project.

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9. The Old Town Newhall parking structure in Santa Clarita is part of the City’s plan to revitalize a dynamic arts and entertainment district. To reinforce their identity, the parking structure features painted word collages that identify various activities, entertainment and dining that the area has to offer.

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10. Stanford University Medical Center took a unique approach to welcoming pedestrians into a subterranean parking structure by incorporating art with interactive technology. Visitors approaching the main pavilion trigger a sound that directly relates to images etched in glass windows, creating a playful interaction between building and visitor.

Interested in elevating the experience your parking structure provides? Learn more about these and other projects utilizing public art, or contact one of our parking structure experts. 

About the Authors

Matt Davis has been creating parking solutions for over 15 years. He has worked on over 50 parking projects and is a certified Parksmart Advisor. In addition to delivering projects to satisfied clients, Matt’s projects, such as the Tustin Metrolink Station Parking Structure and the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Parking Structure, have received recognition from the International Parking Institute and other associations. An active participant in the International Parking & Mobility Institute and the Pacific Intermountain Parking & Transportation Association, Matt has penned and spoken on a number of industry topics, such as Healthcare Parking as the First Line of Customer Service, Green Parking, Transit Parking Best Practices, the Future of Parking, Retrofitting Parking and Right Sizing Parking.

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Taylor Kim has been creating parking solutions for the firm’s clients for over 10 years. She has project experience throughout the parking lifecycle from early parking studies on projects such as the River Oaks District and the Saddleback College parking study to full parking structure design on projects such as the Candlestick Point Parking Structures to condition assessments of older structures such as the Allston Way Garage. Taylor's experience includes all phases of design, from preliminary design through construction documents. In addition to delivering projects to satisfied clients, Taylor’s projects have received recognition from the International Parking Institute and the National Parking association. Taylor is an active participant in Women in Parking and the International Parking Institute.

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