New book turns tide of opinion on multi storey car parks
In this week’s Sunday Telegraph, multi storey car parks were described as, “bleakly and undeniably joyless.” A view probably shared by many of us. But that could be about to change. A new book by London architect, Simon Henley, the Architecture of Parking, is awakening a secret nostalgia in us and even converting staunch enemies into allies. A fact reinforced by the writer of the Telegraph article, Neil Lyndon who admits that he is now a reluctant convert.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the multi-stories followed closely in the tyre treads of the newly popular “motor cars”. The earliest known multi-story car park was built in 1918 for the Hotel La Salle in Chicago. Like many of its contemporaries, it has since been demolished (2005) after failing to receive landmark status from the city of Chicago.
Later, they landed in our cities like alien beings, many arising from bomb craters in Europe after the second world war. These smelly, huge concrete and steel incarnations with their gaping mouths at street level dominating many urban streetscapes. However, one by one these megaliths are disappearing as our cities are gradually being reclaimed from the grasps of the car and returned to pedestrians. But increasingly their destruction is only achieved by hard fought battles. A growing band of hardened converts have been campaigning with evangelical enthusiasm to save these structures.
Main image: 60 East Lake Street, Chicago 1984-1986 (Tigerman Fugman McCurry)
Listen to Simon Henley and Catherine Croft on This Week, WAN’s exclusive podcast.