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Starchitect Parking Structures Break The Staid Bunker Mold

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It's been almost four years since venerable Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron completed their first stateside residential commission, downtown NYC's luxe condo 40 Bond. In the interim, the Pritzker Prize-winners were somehow wooed into designing a $65M Miami, Fla., parking garage (above). What?! Yep, that's right, the same guys that transformed an aging London power station into the Tate Modern turned their considerable talents on a city's least glamorous structure. The results are pretty spectacular. Boasting 34-foot ceilings and lacking exterior walls, the garage has been not only a commercial parking success—despite pricing four times higher than other neighborhood lots—but it has been pulling double duty as an event space, hosting weddings and other functions on the top floor. One recently betrothed couple even featured a sketch of the structure on their wedding invitations. The going rate? A princely $12L to 15K per night. As a feather in HdM's cap, the developer decided to take up residence in a penthouse on the roof. Regardless, we were still feeling a little skeptical about the starchitect/parking garage relationship. That was until we realized just how many blueprint masters have dabbled in this humble realm in the past.

? In 2001, Santiago Calatrava designed this extension of the Milwaukee Art Museum that featured swooping curves and a spectacular atrium above ground without neglecting the underground parking, either. Skylights lend natural light to a normally gloomy space, while the steel tresses echo the museum interior. Elegant, though we'll see how well the crisp white ceiling and trusses endure a couple decades of car exhaust.

? Paul Rudolph, the late dean of the Yale School of Architecture, tackled the urban parking challenge in 1962 with the Temple Street Parking Garage in New Haven, Conn. The triumph of his clean lines is sullied a bit by the obvious fact that while the exterior might be attractive, the interior is no more useful than a run-of-the-mill garage. Sorry, Paul, but inoffensive is not what we're hoping for from our starchitects!

? This one never quite made it off the drawing table, but Frank Lloyd Wright's Automobile Objective was slated to be built atop Sugarloaf Mountain in West Virginia. Designed around a concentric pair of spiral ramps, the structure would permit drivers to reach the top, enjoy the views, and descend without chancing a run-in with other drivers. But FLW seems to have a soft spot for the abandoned project, describing it as “the very quality of its movement, rising and adapting itself to the uninterrupted movement of people sitting comfortably in their own cars in a novel circumstance with the whole landscape revolving about them.” So there, budding starchitects, don't fear the parking structure—you just might fall in love.

· A Miami Beach Event Space. Parking Space, Too. [NYT]
· All Herzog & De Mueron coverage [Curbed National]
· An Auto Destination, Almost, by Frank Lloyd Wright [NYT]