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Westfalia Technologies
This is the first “palletless” system that Westfalia Technologies has installed.

500 Walnut is a 26-story luxury condo building with 35 residences whose selling prices average $5 million, the highest in Philadelphia to date, according to the building’s developer Scannapieco Development Corporation (SDC).

The tower—designed by Cecil Baker + Partners and built by Intech Construction—includes all of the high-end amenities one might expect, such as a heated pool, fitness center, dog grooming, massage room and sauna, and “outdoor retreat.” And then there’s something entirely different: an automated palletless parking system with 86 parking slots, far more than this building could have accommodated had it gone instead with a more conventional alternative.

“This amenity adds a level of convenience that no other building can,” says Tom Scannapieco, SDC’s owner.

HOW THE AUTOMATED PARKING SYSTEM WORKS
The system, installed by Westfalia Technologies of Charleston, S.C., works like this: The resident drives into the building through a street-level bay door that he or she opens electronically via a transponder attached to the car’s grill or bumper. The driver enters a covered auto court—a kind of lobby, says Scannapieco—and then places the car into a transfer “cabin.” Drivers and passengers get out, and proceed to a kiosk into which the resident scans a key fob to answer a few safety questions on a touch screen—are the car doors shut, is the parking brake engaged, is the engine turned off, etc.—that the parking control system evaluates prior to storage.

A lift within the cabin lowers the car to the basement level, where the vehicle is then positioned onto a palletless transfer platform, which Westfalia’s Satellite technology adjusts for the length of the car’s wheelbase. That platform rotates the vehicle 180 degrees so it can be easily driven out when retrieved, and then moves the car into the nearest parking slot.

When drivers need their vehicles, they can scan their fob either in the building’s elevator or at the kiosk, and the system automatically brings the car back to the transfer cabin. (The lobby kiosk notes the car’s position and expected retrieval time.)

500 Walnut has two transfer areas and two transfer platforms. Residents have 24/7 access to this system. There’s negligible risk of vehicle damage, theft, or break-in because there’s no reason for humans to be in the actual parking area.

How much does all this cost? Scannapieco and Ian Todd, Westfalia’s director of Automated Parking Systems, didn’t answer that question directly. On a per-sf basis, 500 Walnut’s 50,840-sf garage with state-of-the-art technology and mechanicals cost double a conventional parking garage, Scannapieco estimates.

But he’s quick to note that on a per-car basis, “there’s no premium,” basing that assessment on the fact that a conventional parking ramp system, with fire protection and ventilation included, would have been impossible to pull off within a building this size, to say nothing of the number of parking slots that Westfalia’s solution provided.

“By having this technology, we’re doubling our parking yield,” says Scannapieco. Todd adds that the developer saved money on excavation, and increased the value of its residential units by enhancing the user’s experience. (Scannapieco says the parking garage has become the most popular amenity in the building.)

500 Walnut opened in early 2018. Westfalia is currently installing its second palletless parking system, with 160 parking slots, in another building about a mile from 500 Walnut. That building is scheduled to open next year. Westfalia also installs palleted systems, but Todd is convinced that the newer technology will catch on as more developers and prospective owners become aware of it.

He adds, parenthetically, that while an automated palletless parking system could be installed in an existing building, there are far greater efficiencies when that system is part of a building’s original design.
Los Angeles Clippers/AECOM
The Los Angeles Clippers have released initial renderings of their brand new 18,500-seat arena expected to open in 2024. Team owner Steve Ballmer and the city of Inglewood are moving forward with the $1 billion, 900,000-square-foot NBA arena over neighborhood concerns and lawsuits over the project,

Designed by local architecture and engineering firm AECOM, the metal-clad, oval-shaped arena is said to be inspired by the “swoosh” of a basketball net. Ballmer told ESPN, “I want it to be a noisy building… I really want that kind of energy.”

The grand vision includes a basketball arena, corporate office building, sports medicine clinic, retail, community and youth-oriented spaces, parking garages, a solar-panel-clad roof, indoor-outdoor “sky gardens,” and an outdoor game-viewing area with massive digital screens.

Ballmer’s goal is to create, “the best home in all of sports,” he said in a statement accompanying the release of the renderings. “What that means to me is an unparalleled environment for players, for fans, for sponsors and for the community of Inglewood. Our goal is to build a facility that resets fans’ expectations while having a transformative impact on the city we will call home.” Ballmer, one of the richest people in the world, will privately finance the mixed-use development.

The project must overcome several legal challenges that cloud its potential success. First, from the Uplight Inglewood Coalition, an organization looking to strengthen Inglewood residents’ political power, is suing the city on allegations that the city’s deal to sell the land for the arena violated California state law. The California Surplus Land Act requires that public land be prioritized for affordable housing development before any other uses. Housing costs in the area had soared since 2016, when the NFL agreed to let the Rams and Chargers relocate to Inglewood.

“In the midst of booming development—which has caused skyrocketing rents and the loss of affordable housing—it simply does not make any sense to prioritize an NBA arena over the needs of Inglewood residents without investing in the needs of residents,” Uplift Inglewood member D’artagnan Scorza said in a recent press release, “Public land should be used for the public good, and access to housing is central to building strong communities.”

Second, James Dolan, owner and CEO of Madison Square Garden, owner of the New York Knicks and the nearby Forum has also sued the city, accusing leaders of secretly negotiating with the Clippers to build on land that it once leased. The 26-acre complex will house all team operations, from corporate headquarters to the team’s training facility. The Clippers currently practice in Playa Vista, have a business office in downtown Los Angeles, and play at the Staples Center (shared with rival Lakers and NHL’s Kings since 1999). Their lease ends in 2024, putting pressure on team ownership to finish construction on time for the next season.
Naaro
Parking garages are often the most uninspiring structures in an urban landscape. Not so for the Novel Stonewall Station in Charlotte, North Carolina, host to the state’s largest public artwork. Created by Marc Fornes/TheVeryMany, Wanderwall’s psychedelic swirls of blue and green instantly catch the eye, even amidst the rapidly expanding, ultramodern downtown skyline.

The facade was assembled on-site from nearly 6,000 individual aluminum pieces—each one painted a different shade of a nine-color gradient—creating a continuous pattern that spans nearly 300 feet across the south and east elevations without gaps or seams. There’s no substructure either, since the super-thin, 1/8-inch installation hangs like a gently pleated curtain on the eight-story building. It’s what Fornes calls “a structural nappe,” a geological term describing a sheet of rock draped like cloth over a fault.

The hypnotic work has different effects when viewed from different angles and distances. Seen from a passing car on adjoining highway I-277, the pattern is kinetic, a gleaming beacon in the sun; viewed from a neighboring sidewalk, the pleats become more noticeable, the individual motifs that make up the pattern more pronounced. And inside the garage, sunlight casts dynamic shadows as it filters through the skin. “It’s abstract continuity,” Fornes says. Whatever it is, it’s certainly fun.

Cyclehoop
The Container Cycle Hub is one solution to what is going to be a very big problem.

We are in the midst of a cycling revolution with the proliferation of electric bikes, which are often far more expensive that the regular bikes people ride in cities. But this creates a problem; nobody I know with a Cevelo road bike leaves it chained to a post in the middle of the city (they keep a junker bike for that), but lots of people have e-bikes now that cost as much.

That's why secure bike parking and storage is really going to be the third leg of the stool that will make the e-bike revolution happen: good bikes, good bike lanes, and a safe, secure place to park.

That's why the Container Cycle Hub from Cyclehoop is such a good idea; in the space of a single car parking space it provides parking for 24 bikes. It's made out of a recycled high cube shipping container.

"A key feature of this product is the high security gate. The original container has been modified to fit space saving secure sliding gates with perforated panels that allow natural light inside while reducing the visibility of the bicycles from the outside for security. The sliding gates are opened using a mechanical code lock, with electronic options available, facilitating keyless access."

They get so many bikes inside by parking them double high, with Cyclehoop's "gas assisted two tier racks." It has bright motion-sensor lights powered by solar panels and enough batteries to keep it going all year.

I do hope that there is enough power to run an alarm and video system as well, just in case someone breaks it open, as often happens in bike storage lockers. You still have to lock your bike, even in this.

As more and more people ride e-bikes instead of cars, more and more of them are going to cost as much as used cars, and security is going to become a very big problem, as critical a part of bike infrastructure as bike lanes.

I am facing this issue all the time now, as I am testing a Gazelle e-bike that is worth as much as a Cevelo road bike and 5 times as much as I got for my beloved Miata. I want to ride it to a lecture tomorrow, but do I dare leave it outside a theatre in the evening in Toronto? In a previous post, What's the best way to lock an e-bike, I quoted an Abus representative who follows a lock-per-hour rule: "If I go to a three-hour movie, I put three locks on the bike." I will be doing that, but I will still be nervous through the entire evening.

I am facing this issue all the time now, as I am testing a Gazelle e-bike that is worth as much as a Cevelo road bike and 5 times as much as I got for my beloved Miata. I want to ride it to a lecture tomorrow, but do I dare leave it outside a theatre in the evening in Toronto? In a previous post, What's the best way to lock an e-bike, I quoted an Abus representative who follows a lock-per-hour rule: "If I go to a three-hour movie, I put three locks on the bike." I will be doing that, but I will still be nervous through the entire evening.

I am facing this issue all the time now, as I am testing a Gazelle e-bike that is worth as much as a Cevelo road bike and 5 times as much as I got for my beloved Miata. I want to ride it to a lecture tomorrow, but do I dare leave it outside a theatre in the evening in Toronto? In a previous post, What's the best way to lock an e-bike, I quoted an Abus representative who follows a lock-per-hour rule: "If I go to a three-hour movie, I put three locks on the bike." I will be doing that, but I will still be nervous through the entire evening.

But cities now provide free or cheap storage for automobiles in public streets. They can get 24 bikes or e-bikes in the same space. If cities are serious about getting people out of cars and on to bikes, they should get serious about bike parking; it is a critical part of bike infrastructure. Dropping Container Cycle Hubs on every block would be a great way to do it.

With people riding $5,000 Terns and Surlys and $2500 Gazelles instead of cars, parking is going to become very, very important.
Faulders Studio
Despite rising fears of a diminished role for architecture in new construction, Faulders Studio principal Thom Faulders embraces his role as a building envelope specialist.

As the AEC industry increasingly moves toward specialization and compartmentalization of building design, many fear for architecture’s diminishing role in the built environment. “The multiple foci at the core of specialization have given rise to a world that is advancing while fragmenting,” wrote architects Stephen Kieran, FAIA, and James Timberlake, FAIA, in Refabricating Architecture (McGraw-Hill, 2004). “We applaud the advancement, but deplore a fragmentation that is no longer unavoidable and so needlessly diminishes architecture.”

A common complaint among architects involved in speculative developments, for example, is that their creativity is often relegated to the façade while other stakeholders design the building structure, services, and interiors. This restrained scope contrasts sharply with the responsibilities of the premodern master builder, who directed all aspects of a building’s design and construction. While the sense of loss due to diminished agency is understandable, architects’ apprehension in this case also suggests a disdain for building envelope design as a self-contained practice, or as a purely ornamental form of design.

Thom Faulders, principal of Oakland, Calif.–based Faulders Studio, offers an alternative perspective. Rather than viewing envelope design as a limitation, he sees it as an opportunity. Over the studio’s 22-plus year tenure, Faulders has amassed a notable collection of façade-dominant projects, including the multilayered skin of the Airspace Tokyo multifamily building and the mineral-accreting Geotube Tower proposal in Dubai. “It stands to reason that a higher percentage of an urban population will have some kind of experience or engagement with a building's façade, much greater than the percentage of those occupying a building's spaces contained within,” Faulders notes. “In this framework, I don't see being relegated to working on the outside of a building as being a limiting factor for the architect."

Although Faulders Studio is not a façade consultancy in the traditional sense, the office continues to push the expressive potential of the building envelope, most recently with Wynwood Garage façade in Miami. Designed by local firm Wolfberg Alvarez & Partners Architecture, the 250,000-square-foot, eight-story parking garage includes ground-level retail and a single level of commercial offices at top. Located within Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, a creative destination known for its street art collection, the Wynwood Garage possesses ample surface area for making a dramatic statement in dialogue with its context. Given the commission to design the building’s façade, Faulders created a visually striking urban canvas with perforated aluminum panels. A high-contrast pattern vaguely reminiscent of soap bubbles contained within a box (although more angular and distorted) connects the building’s many floors while obscuring the individual parking levels from the outside. Thin aluminum panels protrude from the seams between the “bubbles,” adding visual depth to the surface.

“Here, surface touches space in all directions, and like the shared membranes of foams and bubbles, the building skin is in direct contact to the proximities of interior and exterior spaces,” Faulders says. The lack of repetition and multiscalar qualities of the pattern distort the viewer’s comprehension of the building program and size. The pattern also adjusts with the height above ground: “Delineated outlines are more expansive higher up, and address visual registration from a distance,” Faulders explains. "At closer proximities the façade’s pattern blends with the urban texture of the neighborhood; and nearer to street level, focused areas of articulation guide the eye downward to pedestrian street activities.” The envelope design intentionally lacks a sense of closure; it is what Faulders describes as “an open-ended condition that is never at rest.”

In a metropolitan setting like Miami, Faulders considers the cladding to be an urban project first and an architectural project second. This approach was promoted in the 1960s by late British architect Cedric Price, who recognized the inherent uncertainty of the built environment—and its relationship to its original programs—over time. “Inbuilt flexibility or its alternative, planned obsolescence, can be satisfactorily achieved only if the time factor is incl
RD Architecture
Melbourne councillors have approved plans to build an urban farm atop a carpark in a rapidly transforming patch of Melbourne’s Docklands.

Melbourne Skyfarm is a project of urban farm specialist Biofilta, nature regeneration group Odonata and The Sustainable Landscape Company.

It will include a working farm, a nursery, a shop, a cafe, an event space for live music and entertainment as well as education facilities.

RD Architecture is responsible for the design of the farm, which will sit adjacent to Fender Katsalidis Architects’ upcoming Seafarers Place project and the Seafarers Rest Park, just across the road from the Melbourne Quarter development.

A concept statement from the proponents outlines how the project fits in with the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Strategy and its five core aims: to adapt the city to climate change, to mitigate urban heat island effect, to create healthier ecosystems, to create a water-sensitive city and to engage and involve the community.

“Melbourne Skyfarm is driven by these ambitions and proposes a hopeful vision for Melbourne’s future through a productive urban rooftop farm integrated with strong social and community ties,” the statement reads.

“With education being a central ambition of the Melbourne Skyfarm project, the site is woven with environmentally conscious learning opportunities, ranging from native food gardens to solar energy, and bee-keeping to biodiversity and composting.”

Skyfarm has been granted $300,000 from the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest Fund and is supported by the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre.

The proposal has not been without controversy, with council receiving 30 objections during a public exhibition period, and one letter of support. Much of the concern related to potential noise impact, light spill and overshadowing.

Council has approved the project on the condition that the built form be amended to prevent overshadowing of Seafarer’s Rest park, which the proponents agreed to.

The council found the provision of amplified live music and entertainment in the event space only would “not have an unreasonable noise impact on surrounding residential properties.”
Dominique Perrault Architecture
The project fits into the suburb’s plans for a more equitable future, but some are skeptical, as similar ambitions have not panned out at past games.

As the host of the 2024 Summer Olympics, Paris is the latest city to use the world’s largest sporting event as a massive regeneration tool. Just as London did in 2012, the French capital is hoping that it will be able to use the games to effect the economic transformation of a relatively neglected part of the metro area—in this case, the inner suburbs of Northern Paris. This spring, concrete details of the facilities that will help to bring about this hoped-for transformation are starting to trickle into the public domain.

Among the first are plans for the Olympic Village from the studio of architect and urban planner Dominique Perrault (known, among other projects, for his National Library of France and Berlin Velodrome) due to be erected on a riverside site in the suburb of Saint-Denis. The plan is especially significant because, like all Olympic Villages, the new quarter will transform into a regular neighborhood after the games, ideally bringing life to an ex-industrial corner of the metropolis. So will the village deliver?

This isn’t necessarily utopian hot air.

Perrault’s plan is for a mainly mid-rise development of apartment blocks grouped around a central complex containing offices, stores, and community facilities. Besides a large parking lot onsite, the streets linking these blocks will be car-free and will provide excellent connections to the city’s public transit system. This network’s great extension in this area is already underway with the construction of the Grand Paris Express, a 200 kilometer, 68-station expansion of the city’s metro system—almost all of it beyond the historic core—that should make Paris’s suburbs far more easily navigable. The Olympic Village will lie close to a new metro station that forms a junction for three of the Grand Paris Express’s new lines, making the area a hub for the whole of northern Greater Paris.

Visually, Perault’s plan looks likeable enough, though apart from its building materials and verdure cropping up fashionably on rooftops, it all looks pretty familiar, even slightly conservative. The charms of the plan, however, are arguably not in its appearance, but in its sustainability goals and attempts to open up a rather neglected stretch of the River Seine. All construction materials will be bio-sourced (which will mean a lot of wood), while the buildings should be either passive or energy plus (producing more energy than they consume). The complex’s many plants will be watered exclusively by stored rain and ground water, while every part of the neighborhood will be accessible to people with limited mobility.
Tesla
Tesla is preparing for a wider roll out a more capable and robust version of its “eventual” automated parking feature known as Enhanced Summon next week, CEO Elon Musk tweeted Saturday.

The tweet comes just days after the company released a new version of Navigate on Autopilot, an advanced driving feature that is viewed as a step towards full automated driving on highways.

In the tweet, Musk writes “Tesla Enhanced Summon coming out in U.S. next week for anyone with Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self-Driving option.”

Enhanced Summon is a parking assist feature designed to vehicles to navigate a parking lot autonomously and find its driver — under specific conditions. For instance, the driver, who uses the Tesla app to remotely call the car, must be within a certain distance of the vehicle. At this point, the feature doesn’t park for the driver, only exit the parking spot and find the driver. As one reader noted via Twitter recently, it’s more of an automated come-to-you-from-a-parked-position feature for now.

Using the feature, the vehicle will pull out of a parking space, navigate around objects and come to the owner. Musk has been teasing this feature for some time now and owners in the early access program have used it. It’s started to be available more widely a few weeks ago to some owners. (There are already numerous video demonstrations of Enhance Summon in action) Now it appears it will have a wider release, based on Musk’s tweet.

esla’s vehicles are not self-driving. Autopilot is an advanced driver assistance system that can be described as a Level 2 system, a designation by the SAE that means partial automation. Level 2 can control two ADAS features simultaneously like adaptive cruise (accelerating and deceleration along with the vehicle ahead) and lane steering in certain conditions. However, the human driver is expected to maintain control at all times.

(Others have referred to it as semi-autonomous system, but that terminology has been recently shunned by industry insiders)

Navigate on Autopilot, which is supposed to guide a car from a highway on-ramp to off-ramp, including navigating interchanges and making lane changes, is Tesla’s most advanced driver assistance feature to date. The feature was initially held back when the automaker released the latest version of its in-car software, 9.0. When Navigate on Autopilot was eventually released in late October, Tesla placed some limitations on it, including that it mad a lane change suggestion that required the driver to confirm by tapping the turn signal before it would proceed.

In this newest iteration, drivers will now have the option to use Navigate on Autopilot without having to confirm lane changes via the turn stalk. The new version offers “a more seamless active guidance experience,” the company wrote in a blog post April 3.

For a bit of history, Tesla announced in October 2016 that it would started producing electric vehicles with a more robust suite of sensors, radar, and cameras—called Hardware 2—that would allow higher levels of automated driving. Owners of these Hardware 2 vehicles would be able to opt for one of two advanced driving packages, Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self-Driving, the latter of which is supposed to push the automated driving feature to new levels of capability and eventually drive autonomously without human intervention.

Owners with Enhanced Autopilot have vehicles capable of adaptive cruise control, Autosteer (essentially lane keeping), Summon and Navigate on Autopilot. But then in October 2018, the same month it started rolling out Navigate on Autopilot, Tesla removed that “full self-driving” option (FSD).

Then suddenly this year, Tesla changed the terminology and pricing again — and it brought back FSD.

Enhanced Autopilot is no longer available to new owners. Instead, owners can opt for Autopilot or FSD. Autopilot includes the Autosteer and adaptive cruise control features.

Owners who want the more advanced features like Navigate on Autopilot have to buy FSD. Navigate on Autopilot is considered a step towards that still on-met full self-driving promise.

Autopilot costs $3,000 and Full Self-Driving, costs an additional $5,000. So to get FSD owners have to plunk down $8,000.
Arrowstreet
The way people get around is undergoing a revolution—three revolutions, in fact: electrification, automation, and shared mobility. One of the far-reaching implications of this coming change is that a staid, stolid, and largely unloved building type, the multilevel parking garage, will require a radical rethink.

By 2040, more than half of the miles traveled in the U.S. could occur in shared autonomous vehicles (AVs), which would rarely need to park, according to a 2016 study by Deloitte, a financial and risk-management consultant. Dense urban areas in particular—likely to be well served by public transit, AV fleets, ride-sharing, and other transportation options—can expect to see demand for parking plummet while the need for new kinds of spaces, such as pickup and drop-off zones, electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, and AV hubs, emerges. The question for architects, says Amy Korte, a principal with Boston-based Arrowstreet, “is how quickly can we, as design professionals, run through the possible scenarios to help cities and municipalities plan for them?”

Prominent among these scenarios is the potential blight of surplus parking structures. “The prediction that garages aren’t going to exist anymore isn’t quite accurate,” says Korte. Some may transform into docking hubs where AVs can be charged, cleaned, and serviced. City planners typically advocate for locating these stations on the outskirts of the city. However, Korte says entrepreneurs exploring the business model want such garages located centrally. That way, travel time while empty is minimized, and the vehicles are able to return more quickly for servicing.

For garages that don’t find new life as transport hubs, the municipalities that are often the owners of these hulking, low-ceilinged, slope-floored structures may be hard-pressed to know what to do with them. Peckham Levels, a multistory, split-level, early 1980s garage located in a bustling area in southeast London, offers one promising example.

Winner of a 2018 New London Award for best “meanwhile” project (one intended for interim use, in this case 15 years, pending development of a long-term plan), “Peckham Levels has taken a disused carpark that, for decades, was a site of antisocial behavior and made it a popular town-center venue,” says Paul O’Brien, an associate at London-based Carl Turner Architects (CTA), designers of the project.

The transformation of 95,000 square feet of the garage’s midlevels (the upper levels are leased seasonally as a bar and patio, while the ground floor is a multiscreen cinema), completed in 2017, provides the neighborhood with much-needed community space and affordable workplaces. Public program elements include a play area, event and gallery space, food and drink outlets, and a yoga studio and hair salon, while the workspaces include various sizes of customizable shells, with shared service areas, that have enabled local artists, makers, and entrepreneurs to create their own jobs.

The design brings a light touch to the conversion. “There was no point trying to cover everything up and make it feel as though you weren’t in a carpark anymore,” says O’Brien. “That was the charm of it.” The approach also suited the budget, about $42 per square foot. Major interventions are limited to enclosing the open-sided building, with new windows and insulation, and installing mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems. Concrete structure and services are exposed overhead. Parking spaces are still marked on the floors. Partitions of oriented strand board on wood studs separate the perimeter workspaces, and translucent polycarbonate panels admit daylight to the former drive aisles, which are now corridors.

The main difficulty of converting the garage revolved around the low ceiling height (7½ feet to the underside of beams) and floors sloped to drain. Locating partitions beneath beams, a
Gensler
At a 13-story office tower under construction in Hollywood that will soon serve as the headquarters of Netflix, two floors of parking are designed for a different future: As the need for parking dwindles, that parking space can be easily converted into new office space.

Even today, parking garages are typically underused. In the not-too-distant future, car shares, self-driving cars, increased investment in transit, or simple behavioral change could all shift the amount of parking people think they need. And the U.S. also has far more parking than necessary–in Seattle, for example, there are five parking spaces for every resident. Architects and city planners are increasingly realizing that valuable city space could be put to better use than storing cars.

“There are 500 million parking spaces in the United States and [325 million] people,” says Andy Cohen, co-CEO of Gensler, the architecture firm that designed the Hollywood office tower. “Think about all that real estate, all that attention to parking, that could be revitalized and reused for the future of our cities.”

In downtown Boston, a parking lot will become the site of a 30-story high-rise with affordable housing. In Wichita, Kansas, a former parking garage was converted into an apartment building in 2018. Near downtown Cincinnati, a former parking garage is now a hotel. The U.K.-based organization Make Shift transformed an empty parking garage in Brixton into a new hub for small businesses in 2015, and in 2018 converted a seven-story parking garage in London into studios for artists, coworking offices, and community space. This type of conversion isn’t new–a “hotel for autos” built in Manhattan in the 1930s was converted into a warehouse a decade later, and then became apartments. But it’s happening at a faster rate now, and, increasingly, architects are designing new buildings with a vision of a future of fewer cars.

“We’re kind of at this interesting moment right now,” says Kristen Hall, a senior urban designer at the architecture firm Perkins + Will. “We’re probably going to be seeing full absorption of autonomous vehicles on the streets in anywhere from 10 to 30 years, and a lot of the financing for projects is on a 30-year basis. So if you’re a developer looking at building a parking garage and you don’t really know if you’re going to be able to finance or have a consistent revenue stream for a parking garage for the next 3
Kaiser Group
Until recently, buildings taller than five stories had to be constructed of steel or reinforced concrete, both of which require about 80 percent more energy to produce and represent about 200 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than cross-laminated timber (CLT), a new engineered wood product.

Portland developer Ben Kaiser of the Kaiser Group recently completed the tallest American CLT mass timber building—an eight-story, 16-unit condominium/retail tower on an 8,470-square-foot (787 sq m) lot. (Another tower rising in Portland will soon surpass that height.) Residents enter the building—designed with only two units per floor—directly from an elevator into their own units. Light and ventilation from three directions around the condo units give them more the feeling of a house than of an apartment. The combination of exposed CLT wooden ceilings and exposed glulam posts and beams on a 12-by-12-foot (3.7 sq m) and 12-by-15-foot (3.7 by 4.6 m) grid, along with oak floors, lends a warm wooden patina to the units offset by vertical white drywall panels between the windows around the unit and in the kitchens and the bathrooms.

With two retail units on the ground floor for lease to a café and a credit union, and an 85-foot (26 m) zoning height limit, only 14 residential units could be included in the tower. Therefore, they needed to be large enough to attract an exclusive market, yet small enough to be affordable to that new market for Portland’s east side. Kaiser settled on 1,551-square-foot (144 sq m) two-bedroom, two-bathroom units in which one of the bedrooms could enlarge the central great room. Each unit has a 16.5-by-11.3-foot (5 by 3.5 m) deck facing north or south.

The building is called Carbon 12 for the most common carbon isotope the engineered wood sequesters, and for the building’s address at 12 NE Fremont Street in Portland. Typically, CLT panels are made of five layers of wood glued at right angles to one another under high pressure to form solid panels usually measuring about 12 feet wide and up to 60 feet long (3.7 by 18 m) and two to 24 inches (5 to 60 cm) thick. CLT enables developers to create tall, strong, energy-efficient, and earthquake- and fire-resistant buildings. CLT is made from sustainably managed forests from logs under nine inches (23 cm) in diameter. An acre (0.4 ha) of forest can absorb and sequester twice the carbon dioxide produced by the average car driven for a year.