The City of Berkeley's Downtown Arts District has blossomed into a popular destination for locals and visitors alike. People arrive by public transportation, bike or car to frequent bars, shops and restaurants, or attend events. The original 1950's garage was not only insufficient in parking-capacity, but was woefully below current seismic safety standards. This architectural sleight-of-hand is a visual feat in response to a challenging brief: create a behemoth eight story, 720-car parking garage on a tight mid-block site, while providing a creative facade fitting of its artistic context.
Also housing retail, art, public restrooms, bicycle parking, a cafe, and offices, the mid-block site provides opportunity for two street-frontages, the facades of which are designed as public-art. A perforated aluminum security-screen forms horizontal bands that contract and then flare, two massive waves, each surging in a different direction, every panel adding its own small syncopation. When daylight slices through, small dots dance against thick concrete; and at night, choreographed lighting washes the pleated metal scrim in an ever-changing array of colors. Its colorful, cantilevered, open-air staircases are the antithesis of archetypal grim, isolating garage circulation, in full-view of the public, they feel thoroughly safe, with expansive views.
The layering of the concrete structural core, steel exterior framing, and dynamically lit metal scrim creates an integrated solution, definitely a place for cars, but with a face to delight people. Berkeley’s transportation manager, Farid Javandel, told news organization Berkeley-side: “From commuters, I’ve been hearing it is the best-looking new building in downtown Berkeley.”
To see more amazing entries from this year’s WAN Awards please click here.