Parking structures are found all over the world. They serve office buildings, shopping centers, banks, universities, airports, train stations, bus stations, and hospitals, in both urban and suburban settings. Parking structures have been designed and built for decades. Why then, the need for this book? Parking structure design is more difficult than it first appears, which can lead to defects in the completed building.
Yet this need not be so. We hope that our advice will raise awareness of parking structure complexities and lead to improved design, construction, maintenance, and repair. Parking structures often appear simple, but can be deceptively difficult to plan, design, and construct. Aside from consideration of the impact on traffic in the surrounding streets, attention must be given to entrances and exits, revenue control, internal traffic and pedestrian circulation, patron security and safety, openness requirements, structure durability, maintainability, and other matter not usually encountered in other building types. As a result, even experienced designers and builders can be caught by practices they have used before, but that will not work in parking structures.
Owners, too, may make decisions based on previous experience, but that experience may not apply to parking structures. Much of the advice here will apply to surface parking as well.
It’s important to realize that building codes recognize two types of parking structures – open and closed. Codes do not require open parking structures to have mechanical ventilation or sprinklers, as do closed structures; so they are less expensive.
For a building code to designate a parking structure open, the structure must meet specific requirements of that code. For example, the Uniform Building Code states, in part, For the purpose of this section, an open parking garage is a structure of Type I or II construction which is open on two or more sides totaling not less than 40% of the building perimeter and which is used exclusively for parking or storage of private pleasure cars. For a side to be considered open, the total area of openings distributed along the side shall be not less than 50% of the exterior area of the side of each tier.