The Humble Parking Garage – Five Ways to Make it Better with Lighting

a guest post by Lisa J. Reed, Lighting Designer

The humble parking garage is like the welcome mat to your building. Why not make a quality statement with the lighting and establish a sense of place and a sense of entry? Make a great first impression!

A parking garage is not typically a bastion of fine design. Put up the standard pre-fabricated concrete structure, add the required amount of building-standard lighting, paint a few signs, and – bam – parking garage is finished! Let’s move on to the “important” parts of the design.

I propose that it is possible to simply and beautifully turn the “basic” parking garage concept on its head. Instead of starting in the lobby, I challenge you to think of the parking garage as the building entrance. The parking garage is an important part of the entry sequence.

What are the keys to a cool parking garage?

  1. Good lighting. Often this will mean using white light with the best CRI you can afford. Minimize glare by carefully locating your light fixtures so that they aren’t directed toward drivers’ eyes.
  2. Use occupancy sensors. This energy-saving strategy of using sensors to turn on lights when cars and people arrive has an added benefit of making people feel like rock-stars when they enter your building. Admit it. You feel powerful when those lights come on just because you’ve entered the garage, don’t you?
  3. Incorporate daylight. I recently had the pleasure of using a parking garage that incorporated skylights. These weren’t just ordinary skylights, either. They were part of a reflecting pool above the garage, so the interplay of light and water bounced around the garage. This is one of the most mesmerizing things to watch anywhere. Putting a skylight into a parking garage was genius! The sense of wonder that guests experienced as they entered this garage prepared them for their visit before they ever entered the building. Daylight gives people a connection to the outdoors and is nice in any form – window, skylight, or even piped in with a tubular daylighting device.
  4. Lighting can help with wayfinding. In a multi-story parking garage, it is important to help guests find the elevator, stairs, or entrance to the building. One way lighting can help define these core areas is by brightly and evenly washing the walls around them.
  5. Often, different floors of a parking garage are defined by different colors. Colored LED marker lights can reinforce the color of each floor, and can be used to define pathways or highlight elevator core walls, too.

Why Build a Better Garage?

The humble parking garage is like the welcome mat to your building. Why not make a quality statement with the lighting and establish a sense of place and a sense of entry? Make a great first impression!

Lisa J Reed photo - Lighting Blog

Lisa J. Reed has been attracted to lighting (like a moth to a flame) for 20+ years. She is the Founding Principal at Envision Lighting Design, LLC in St. Louis, where she designs, teaches, and writes about architectural lighting. Connect with Lisa J. Reed on Google+.

 

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