Parking garages notoriously pose building design challenges. Despite a team’s best creative effort, it seems structural requirements often limit opportunities to create a truly amazing user experience. Instead we get tight turns, pedestrians dashing out from behind hidden egresses, and frustrated drivers searching for the last available space. Now imagine that desperate person is arriving at a hospital or medical facility experiencing pain, disability, or anxiety—or all three. Simply parking the car can feel like the first of Hercules’ labors.
push button parking
To address this challenge on the upcoming Seattle Cancer Care Alliance [SCCA] Expansion, GLY and lead designer ZGF Architects looked to technology of the future: an automated parking garage that provides valet service to each and every visitor. The WÖHR Multiparker 730 transforms a standard parking garage into a futuristic automobile warehouse. Arrivals to SCCA park in a centralized drop-off location and let robotics take over. The mechanized platform shifts both vertically and horizontally to transport each car to a designated space within the garage’s three stories. When ready to depart, the lift returns the car to the collection area with a click of a button.
minimal stress, minimal space, maximum safety
This system offers numerous benefits. First and foremost, the simplicity of the process reduces stress. A drawn-out parking experience is the last thing a patient or visiting loved one needs; plus, groups and partners can stick together. No need to leave a patient alone at curbside while their driver parks the car and returns.
The second major benefit is cost savings. Without the need for driving or walking space, cars literally stack on top of one another, saving space and, in an expensive downtown location, a lot of money.
Finally, removing human error saves lives. Fifty thousand parking garage accidents are reported in the U.S. each year, resulting in 500 deaths and 60,000 injuries. An SCCA patient advisory group member traveled to Germany with the team to experience the WÖHR system first-hand. He was impressed with its convenience and safety, and left feeling confident that SCCA chose “the best structure and company possible.”
a flexible future
The most remarkable aspect of this new garage system isn’t what it can do now, but what kind of future it foretells. With increasing traffic woes and exponential growth, the disappearance of the traditional car is inching closer to reality every day. Smart design requires entertaining the possibility that millions of existing garages will soon be obsolete, and building owners do not want to be saddled with cavernous spaces optimized for an outdated function. But SCCA needn’t worry. Their new garage is analogous to LEGOs—easy to take apart and put back together again. Not only does this make maintenance and repair a breeze, when people do finally hang up their car keys, SCCA has a large space capable of quick and easy reinvention.