Architecture & Engineering

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What is the impact of adding mixed-use elements to a parking garage?

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Whether an entire new mixed-use development project is being planned, or a parking structure is being added to an existing location, the goal when planning parking for the project is to use the parking structure and its ebb and flow of pedestrians to and from the facility to help create a “people place”.  A “people place” can be defined as an area where visitors have and experience a variety of activities in one centralized location, from retail and restaurants, to offices and community spaces. The activity generated by the mix of uses and from the pedestrian traffic to and from the parking facility helps create a “sense of place,” fosters community identity, and leaves a lasting positive impression, encouraging patrons to return. In addition, including attractive open spaces, such as landscaped areas or courtyards, facilitates community interaction within a development, creating an inviting and vibrant public space. The appeal of this type of destination is increased by density, planned in close proximity to other uses, such as transportation centers or entertainment venues.

To maximize available space in a mixed use, higher density project, public space design and destinations can be incorporated into the garage itself.  Many garages add retail, restaurant, or commercial space at the grade level, or with in the lower levels of the facility. The incorporation of other uses in to the garage creates street level activity and minimizes the mass of the structure. These elements help activate the street, contribute to the vitality of the area and, most importantly, add people. These design elements create a safer and more pleasant streetscape, while enhancing the pedestrian walking experience.

*Federal, State, and Local codes govern most of these requirements and should be thoroughly investigated. Data presented herein should be considered guidelines only.  For more specific information and assistance with implementation of these guidelines, please contact THA Consulting, Inc. via email at

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