Multi-purpose car park design pushes the sustainability envelope

While many car park building designs in Chicago have a tradition of disguising themselves as office buildings with false façades, a U.S-based architectural and engineering design firm has attempted to break from that model and deliver an entirely new aesthetic, by way of an 11-story energy-efficient parking garage in Chicago — the first of its kind for the city —  featuring wind turbines, a rain water collection system and electric car plug-in stations. 

“Clients across a wide range of sectors have been asking us for architectural solutions that push the sustainable envelope,” says Todd Halamka, director of design for HOK's Chicago office. “For this assignment, Friedman Properties gave us the opportunity to collaboratively envision what a ‘green' parking garage could be. Our design is sustainably astute and sets a new standard for this building type.” 

The Greenway Self-Park enlists a slue of green features, including a cistern rain water collection system, electric car plug-in stations, and a way-finding system at each elevator lobby that 

educates Chicagoans on how to live more sustainably and better protect the environment. Perhaps most significant is a 12-paired array of vertical turbines, located on the southwest corner of the garage, which were designed to harvest the wind to power the exterior wall lighting of the facility. A reversible meter was also installed to measure and return power to the city's grid throughout the year.

HOK's team worked closely with client Friedman Properties to create a practical, yet architecturally distinctive garage. In a departure from the typical, closed-exterior-wall design (one that requires 24-hour mechanical ventilation) used on other parking garages, the team conceived a naturally ventilated exterior wall design, utilising a glazed screen that eliminates the need for a mechanical system entirely. This unique glazed screen is comprised of a visually layered fabric of breathable glass channels that progressively reveal the inner concrete super-structure of the building. Together, the screen and channels provide an interesting visual play from day to night, throughout the 24-hour operation of the garage. The ground-level floor of the garage is reserved for retail space. 

The structure is currently pursuing LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. 

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