Santa Monica Mea Culpa


Back in March I was dismissive of the Santa Monica Civic Center Parking Garage, a "six-story, 882-space structure at the Civic Center features photovoltaic roof panels, a storm drain water treatment system, recycled construction materials and energy efficient mechanical systems." Not being fond of above grade parking structures in prime locations, I suggested that it was a ludicrous project: " And they are going for LEED certification, which should be a challenge for an above grade parking garage, even if it was made from site-grown bamboo and ventilated by flapping butterfly wings."

I was seriously wrong, it is a stunner. It really is a silk purse out of a sow's ear of a program.


ArchNewsNow says "The humble parking garage is humble no more with a bold design that makes it a sparkling destination point in itself - oh, it's LEED green, too."


"A new civic parking garage, designed by Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners (MRY), is now an integral part of the quadrant of civic buildings that visually unites the tableau of diverse buildings. Not least among the challenges was to "create architecture out of a utilitarian, common building type, one that is not generally associated with high design standards," says MRY Principal-in-Charge James Mary O�Connor, AIA. "The structure offers a visually memorable arrival point and gateway to the Civic Center." The project also had to exemplify the city's commitment to sustainable design; this will be one of the first parking structures in the U.S. to achieve LEED Certification."


An Urban Solution

"The varied amenities incorporated into the parking structure allow the designed mass to function beyond its service capacity. The four sides of the building acknowledge the individual urban contexts, thus serving as a fully designed urban presence. Small retail spaces at the pedestrian level expand the building's civic edge, creating a destination as well as a gateway. A lively cafe on the main plaza terrace will animate the pedestrian flow into and out of the heart of the Civic Center. The Zen garden, a commissioned artwork by Mark Lere, highlights both the inside and the outside of the building, making it more hospitable to the community than an ordinary public garage."


A Sustainable Structure

"The building runs efficiently and sustainably. Photovoltaic panels on the roof and laminated to three facades provide much of the building's energy needs. The array of angled photovoltaic cells accentuates the skyline and creates a memorable profile for the Civic Center.

All facades allow natural ventilation and illumination to enter all parking floors. The ceilings are painted white to maximize the quality of light and airiness. Multicolored glass panels allow daylight into the structure, decreasing the amount of artificial light that is generally needed for this type of building, and adding a glow to the interior by day and a luminous exterior by night. The structure becomes a sensor and vessel of light, colors, and patterns, ranging from transparent to translucent.

Other sustainable features include: a storm drain water treatment system; recycled construction materials and waste; low volatile organic compound paints and coatings; low-e glazing for heating and cooling efficiency; and energy efficient mechanical systems."


So Mea Culpa, I was wrong. If one is going to build an above grade parking garage with ocean views, it might as well be green and gorgeous. ::ArchNewsNow

All pictures by John Edward Linden from Archnewsnow.

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