Few aspects of modern life are as contradictory as parking. We want parking to be plentiful wherever we go, yet we covet neighborhoods that favor pedestrians. When parking is added to our neighborhoods, we worry about traffic and property values. When parking is lacking in new developments, we worry about parking shortages and property values. In spite of the large role that parking design and policy play in our lives, they remain relatively underdeveloped. Automobile storage usually receives the least amount of design attention and construction dollars per square foot, yet it continues to be one of the largest components of our physical environment. The disproportionate relationship between attention and size has left parking as one of the great unsolved challenges in our contemporary urban environments.

The current issue of Line Magazine reveals the complexities of the “parking crisis” that are common in cities throughout the US.  Personally, due to my disposition for preserving historic buildings, I’ve never been a big proponent of parking developments.  Far too often existing buildings, rich in architectural character, are destroyed to make way for new parking structures or surface lots.  These edifices tend to lack good aesthetic qualities, and, for the most part, degenerate the beauty of a location.  The former Michigan Theater in Detroit is a prime case study. 

Certainly, there is a need for parking in our cities.  How much, and how we choose to build parking developments, remains to be debated.