While a parking structure as tourist destination may seem unlikely, this may be changing. Cities all over the world are adorning simple parking garages with colorful LED lighting displays, adding interest and glamour to a once-dull structure.
Parking garages, built to alleviate the burden of parking in bustling cities, can still provide a functional solution while also being a work of art and helping to beautify an area that may have once distracted from other dazzling monuments in the city. Transforming a garage into an art piece not only helps it fit in with the vibrant city around it, but can elevate it to an attraction of its own.
One such parking structure that doubles as a work of art is the Channel Center Garage in Boston, Massachusetts. This garage is situated in the innovation and arts district of Boston, an area of the city that requires all buildings to incorporate modern architectural design to illustrate the creativity and progressive thinking characteristic of the area.
To meet this requirement, a dynamic lighting display illuminates the garage and a neighboring urban playground. The Channel Center Garage now serves a dual purpose to this contemporary area of Boston.
Another garage worth a trip is the Helix Garage in Lexington, Kentucky, USA. The city wanted to encourage tourists to visit a historic district in downtown Lexington where the garage is located. Since the Helix Garage needed to undergo renovations for structural and safety issues, the Lexington and Fayette County Parking Authority (LFCPA) decided to also transform it into a large-scale public art installation. “We’ve learned from studying other cities that adding visual appeal to public parking facilities increases use and pays dividends for years. The lighting of the Helix ramps and the Main Street façade is a cost effective form of public art,” said Gary Means, Executive Director of LFCPA.
While the Helix Garage’s lightshows have succeeded in attracting much-needed attention to the area, a Los Angeles garage hopes to do the same. Artist Cliff Garten was commissioned to create an art piece for the parking structure of The Vermont, a residential and retail building in the Koreatown neighborhood. Titled “LA Opens Its Heart of Compassion”, the illuminated art piece aims to bring business to The Vermont with its creative design paying homage to the Korean roots of the area and of the many immigrants that live in the building. The magnificent art piece ensures that the Vermont garage is worth adding to your list of sights to see on your next trip to LA.
LED lights have provided a medium for artists and city officials to come together to beautify their hometowns like never before. Once purely functional (and frankly, often ugly), parking garages are rising in the ranks of go-to destinations. Soon you may find that your list of must-see sights during your next vacation includes a garage, and not just to park your car.