Short of persuading people to embrace generally better design, parking may be the biggest challenge facing many cities. Parking lots waste space, create heat islands, and underperform financially. Oh, and they’re super ugly too.
Writing for Governing, Paul Taylor recently explored ways to solve these problems. He recommends challenging our assumptions about what a parking lot can be and points out that many so-called improvements don’t go far enough.
As cities work to make large swaths of concrete and pavement more sustainable, they are rethinking the lot as a public space that benefits the people who live and work nearby. It is not enough to add landscaping to regimented rows of freshly striped asphalt. That model is limiting, not liberating, says Michael Lehrer of California-based Lehrer Architects. He suggests turning the conventional model on its head. “Park cars in a park, not trees in a parking lot,” he says.
Taylor also begins his piece by mentioning parking on grass.
I think that specific idea has limited feasibility in Provo — where fields of grass would quickly become fields of whirling dust — but the point about pavement and alternative parking materials is a solid one. And either way, its clear none of our parking lots were really designed with creative, out-of-the-box thinking.