Parking in Multi-Use Developments

Posted by Dan Hanes | April 20, 2017 | Solutions

The Columbus Architectural Studio have planned over 10,000 new structured parking spaces in downtown Columbus which allows for a greater walkable community and tighter urban fabric.”


Columbus is home to many national renowned items: Buckeye Football, Jeni’s Ice cream, James Thurber. I would argue that there is one from Columbus that shaped more cities across the US: the City’s 1923 Parking Ordinance, a zoning law that required a minimum number of off street parking be built with any new apartment building. This was the first of its kind anywhere and soon spread through out the Country. While Parking may seem an afterthought in the planning of great cities, the density of our urban fabric is directly related to parking requirements of the City or the Developer. What is the difference between Los Angles, Amsterdam, and Tokyo’s urban fabric? The answer is directly linked to minimum parking requirements of those cities.

Multi-tier Parking decks allow for higher density. The limestone at the base of the Parking structure was repurposed from the Ohio Penitentiary.

Columbus’ Urban Fabric shaped Parking Requirements and their Costs.

Toward the end of the last century, Columbus’ core was shaped by the construction of office towers and their hidden cost of parking. Much of Columbus’ existing building fabric was razed to allow for inexpensive parking. Downtown was only experienced from a tower. The office worker would trek to his surface lot and leave for his home in the suburbs. Our city was only used during working hours; the other two-thirds of the day it sat empty.

Arena Web-8

A three tier open air parking structure is below the Arena Crossing Apartments. A creative approach from members of our design studio to maximizing density and creating a walkable district.

This emptiness of the city was directly related to space requirements for a car and the cost to construct it. A parking space takes approximately 350 square feet per car. An office worker takes about 225 square foot per person. This means for every 1,000 square feet of Office, you need 1,500 square feet of parking. Compounding the issue is the Cost to Build a parking space. A surface lot space is about $3K  and one in a multi story parking structure is $15K. If you look at the cost construction of an office building, you start to get some economies by going vertical. Parking is the opposite. Now for a 10 story office building with the cost model just outlined, that 1,000 square feet of office space now requires effectively 15,000 square feet of surface lot. This was our downtown environment.

We reused an abandoned warehouse for a combination of both parking and loft residential units, allowing for parking densities to support North Bank Tower.

New Directions in Columbus’s Downtown.

Since the 1990, Columbus’ urban fabric has undergone a major renovation. With new developments in downtown such as the Arena District, the city has become much more dense. The key to this is related to making sure that  parking spaces are used for the whole day and not just the working third. And most importantly the revenue from that space is captured as well. Realizing the notion that “Free” parking has done harm to the American urban fabric, we should think of the impact of parking. Over the last two decades members of The Columbus Architectural Studio have planned over 10,000 new structured parking spaces in downtown Columbus which allows for a greater walkable community and tighter urban fabric.

Designer now at The Columbus Architectural Studio converted an abandoned warehouse to office and parking for the Buggyworks project. The two Parking levels can be converted to office if Autonomous Vehicles reduce parking demands.

But What about the Flying Cars of the Future?

The prospect of autonomous cars have greatly questioned the need for parking structures. While accurately predicting the future is a fools game, autonomous cars will allow denser parked structures but not eliminating them. One of the design challenges during this transitional period is to recognize the potential major change and design structures that have possible future lives when we can get to tighter parking densities.

The Neil avenue garage designed to park around 1000 cars, could support an additional 500 cars in converted to house autonomous vehicles. Photography Credit: Megan Leigh Barnard

Dan Hanes Architect
About The Author

Dan Hanes - Architecture

Danial was born in Alaska to Midwesterners who were long on love but short on spelling ability. He grew up in many cities and Air force bases throughout the world. Right out of Architectural school he started working on many large, complex sports projects across the country including Chase Field, Miami Heat Arena, an Olympic Stadium in Atlanta, and Madison Square Garden. While this work was rewarding, all of the required travel meant he only saw his wife and two small children on weekends. Looking for a change that would allow more time with his family, an opportunity of a lifetime opened up. Nationwide was planning to develop a district around their newly designed Arena. Consequently he moved with his family to Columbus in 1999 and has since worked on many notable Columbus projects, including: Huntington Ballpark, The Scioto Mile, Nationwide Arena District, Northbank and Parks Edge condominiums. Danial has also been involved in the local design community as a guest Critic for the Knowlton School Architecture and served as a board member for the Center for Architecture and Design.

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