A sight for sore eyes

Amy
Tuesday 25 Oct 2011

Innovative design transforms utilitarian building into civic symbol and certified sustainable structure

The design of the 300,000 sq ft parking structure establishes a strong presence within a cluster of prominent buildings in Santa Monica's Civic Center. The project also exemplifies the city's commitment to sustainable design whilst strengthening the urban fabric and providing public amenities.

Completed in June 2007, one of the challenges was to create architecture out of a common building type — one that is not generally associated with high design standards. The design transforms this standard service amenity by viewing it from a fresh perspective and taking it to a higher level where it can have a positive influence on its surroundings.

Beyond the primary purpose of providing parking spaces, the structure offers a visually memorable arrival point and gateway to the new Civic Center, street-level retail and café amenities, spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the city, a garden and a sense of personal safety.

Pre-cast white, ribbed concrete panels are set in a rhythmic, variegated pattern on all façades, capturing and enhancing the rich play of shadows provided by the brilliant sunlight whilst screening the presence of parked cars. A series of bays made of channeled coloured glass breaks down the scale of the structure and is set at varying sizes and angles to bring a light, luminous and ever-changing quality to the building.

As the bays are lit up in the evening, their glow appears as a shimmering curtain. Photovoltaic panels on the roof provide most of the building's energy needs. The project's innovative architecture and urban design transform a utilitarian building type into an iconic civic symbol, while achieving one of the first LEED-certified sustainable parking structures in the U.S.

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