by Wahidah Fowler
When was the last time you witnessed a tall vibrant building with an emaciated parking deck starving for a splash of creative zest? Disappointingly, parking decks have been reduced to tension rods and beams submerged in layers of poured concrete with a few level indicator signs and painted arrows. They are visually stifling. As Calder Loth describes them, “These vapid works of naked engineering are little more than concrete shelving to store our vehicles, blaring the fatuous rationale that form follows function.”
Like sardines packed in a can, we maneuver around tight, sharp corners to stuff ourselves in parking spaces that are, like many of our wardrobes, two sizes too small. It is a shame that parking decks are mostly overlooked when it comes to branding and customer experiences. Why can’t these hopeless slabs of buzzkill receive the same attention we give to an office lobby? From our years of experience, we’ve seen that parking signage is usually the first thing on a project to be value engineered despite how fundamental they are to a customer’s first impression. If you cut corners by cheapening these signs, you will then risk cheapening your client’s entire experience.
Fortunately, there are many ways to easily and cost-effectively liven up parking decks. Bright and clear wayfinding in addition to brand signage can properly welcome your clients and lead them to their desired destination. In addition to signage, a splash of color goes a long way, especially when it is color coded. Distinctive colors varying on each level can be used as another aid to elevate the experience. Wayne Hunt of Hunt Design expressed, “In additional to signs, color can be used on entire walls and elevator enclosures to further distinguish levels in a structure. The graphic differences in large amounts of color work as a powerful reinforcement of place.”
Ready-made products like IMG's Parkade parking garage system allow new signage to be added with ease. With all of the essential sign types, such as crash bars, identity signs and directionals, Parkade has everything necessary to enhance your customer’s parking experience. This system also gives facility managers, designers and architects plenty of creative flexibility to align the signs with their brand standards.
When it comes to intuitive and wayfinding experiences, the parking garage design approach is just as significant as any other part of a building. With the right strategy and creative thread, you can design your parking garage to be as enjoyable as entering the main lobby of a building for the first time. Parking decks have become such a source of anxiety for so many people. Enhancing these environments will significantly improve your customer’s experience.