Preparing for a Car-Free Future by Converting Parking Garages into Apartments

by Nena Perry-Brown

Preparing for a Car-Free Future by Converting Parking Garages into Apartments: Figure 1
A section rendering of the proposed convertible parking garage floors

A Seattle developer is currently proposing a massive mixed-use project that will incorporate an unusual component: eight floors of above-grade garage parking that can be retrofitted into residences and offices.

LMN Architects is seeking approval to construct a 1,029 foot-tall tower — the city’s tallest — with residential units, retail, a hotel and office space, all atop eight floors of parking.

The idea is to build a tower that can successfully adapt to the city’s needs up to a century after its completion. “I feel we do have have the responsibility—that if the parking uses do change, we design to be able to adapt to that change,” explains John Chau, a partner at LMN Architects, to Wired magazine.

Although it may seem like a no-brainer, building convertible garage space is no easy — nor inexpensive — feat. Vehicles are lighter than housing or office space, and construction must also account for changes in slope, ventilation, and access to utility hook-ups, as well as more aesthetic concerns like ceiling heights and placement of pillars. This particular project will also make use of car elevators.

Architectural firm Utile is also working on a convertible garage in Boston; this idea has been floated in several cities nationwide and there are no completed examples yet.

While DC has limited space and opportunity for such a concept, the city has seen its own version of this taking place for several years now as many surface parking lots have been redeveloped into mixed-use multi-family housing.

With urban areas becoming more-desirable places to live and increasingly being designed and regulated to encourage and incentivize car-free living and multi-modal accessibility, converting parking structures into residences seems like a natural evolution.

See other articles related to: seattle, parking, conversions, car-free

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/car-free_future_by_converting_pkg_garages_to_apts/11853


  1. behradb@gmail.com said at 4:11 pm on Tuesday November 8, 2016:
    Isn't Douglas Development doing exactly this with the Hecht Warehouse redevelopment? Or at least they were planning to at some point.
  1. HithisisScott said at 5:13 pm on Tuesday November 8, 2016:
    I thought something similar was planned for the parking garage being built next to the Brookland metro station as well!

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