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Green Parking Structure

The Santa Monica, Calif. Civic Center parking structure, set to open in March, has been boasted by some enthusiasts as the world's first "green" parking structure. As part of the city's "net zero" plan to develop a sustainable infrastructure, the structure, at the corner of fourth St. and Olympic, will feature the use of solar energy, recycled materials, multi-colored window panels, and even a restaurant.

A "green" parking structure might not seem like a large step in curbing fuel emissions (perhaps even a backwards one) but it does mean something coming from an area with one of the worst congestion problems in the United States. And it has some interesting features worth considering, most notably a new idea emerging throughout the "green" era: human sustainability.

Foremost, the structure's roof is covered in solar panels. "Many people don't like to park on the roof, because their cars get too hot," said James Mary O'Connor, on KCRW radio show "Design and Architecture". O'Connor is the principle architect for Moore Ruble Yudell, the project designers. The solar panels will produce 250 kW of Pv which will be used to light the structure and to cool the cars.

Additionally, the structure has been built with recycled materials and in energy-efficient ways. All the materials in the existing city parking will be incorporated into the structure and the area where the existing lot exists will be converted to a park.

But the most notable features of the structure come from the designers' aim to not only keep the community surrounding it intact, but to encourage its growth. O'Connor stated that usually with structures of this size, no human activity exists within miles. With the adjunct restaurant and public use around the perimeter (possibly retail or restaurants) the street will be "activated."

Further, colored glass panels will not only enliven the structure's interior, but also maintain an overall aesthetic quality to the area that doesn't often come with parking structures. This notion of human-centered sustainability, the idea that building developments should maintain the integrity of the community and not break it up, was very important to the developers. There is a lot of talk about sustainability, and a lot of that goes with the technological side of it, high-performance materials, said O'Connor. But equally important is using architecture to sustain the community.

Source: Design and Architecture, Radio Show on KCRW

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December 8, 2019, 8:45 am PDT

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