Eskew+Dumez+Ripple recently designed The Park, a hybrid structure that merges the functions of a parking garage with commercial retail in the historic Warehouse District of New Orleans. The project shows how you can take the traditional single-purpose garage typology and transform it into a truly commercially active and visually pleasing neighborhood asset.
Whereas traditional parking garages assume a monolithic aesthetic, The Park integrates large, pre-manufactured modules that play with pattern and material, to visually lighten the building's facade. Composed of various widths of solid concrete and open-air gaps, the design results in a playful arrangement that defies the typical heavy grid of most garages, while still meeting the 50% open-air façade requirements for naturally ventilated parking structures. Using a precast construction method rather than a cast-in-place approach, meant that the garage could be built with less street disturbance, greater cost efficiency, and within a much shorter timeframe. The design employs three pre-cast, integrally-colored modules-parapet panels, structural beams, and exterior panels-with five variations for each. The pre-cast panels on the two primary street facades vary in size from 34-feet-10-inches-in-length to 41-feet-in-length, and are smooth with strategically placed reveals for an added layer of detail.
At street level on Girod Street, steel awnings provide retailers and pedestrians relief from sun and rain. At the main entrance, visitors experience a change in material from the industrial concrete of the arcade and marquee, to the softer, natural hardwood (ipe) screen which aligns with the entry. This marks an symbolic shift from the "vehicular" to the "pedestrian" as patrons transition from the garage to the street.
Photography: Timothy Hursley