Building Magazine


Toronto parking garage and lot win international awards for best designed parking

Don’t be shocked to learn that the architectural showpiece or inviting urban garden at the end of the street is actually a parking facility. As the seven winners of the International Parking Institute (IPI) 2014 Awards of Excellence competition demonstrate, today’s parking garages and lots are likely to be as easy on the eye as they are user- and earth-friendly.

Honorees in the 32nd annual competition range from the visually striking Park Place in Missoula, Montana, and the Ajax GO Parking Garage in Toronto, to the green and modern Boston Common Parking Garage, situated underneath America’s oldest park.

“Many are architecturally striking hubs that facilitate mass and alternative transit and a variety of pedestrian activities; others conceal their practical function with lushly planted parks that enhance the entire neighborhood. It’s fair to say parking is transforming communities, making them greener, easier to navigate, and certainly more livable,” says IPI executive director Shawn Conrad, CAE.

Winners were selected by a panel of judges that included architects, parking corporations, and city, airport, and university officials. The two Toronto projects receiving top honors are:  

Best Design of a Parking Facility with More than 800 Spaces: Ajax GO Station

Project Team:

  • Owner: GO Transit, a Division of Metrolinx
  • Architect, Architect-of-Record, Landscape, Civil Engineer, Planning & Traffic Engineer: IBI Group
  • Structural Engineer, Engineer-of-Record & Parking Consultant: Read Jones Christoffersen, Ltd.
  • Design Builder: Kenaidan Contracting, Ltd.
  • Mechanical and Electrical Engineer: MCW Consultants Limited  

Torontos stunning Ajax GO Parking Garage appears to be a green box floating lightly above the ground anchored by glass towers with an origami-inspired canopy, making it one of the city’s architectural treasures. With pre-cast concrete columns serving as its visual “bones,” the structure’s lower levels are distinguished by an asymmetric system of perforated screens, and its three upper floors feature green aluminum tubes installed vertically in a scalloped-wave pattern. Inside, the six-level parking structure provides 1,500 parking spaces for GO passenger rail patrons and connects with an existing bus loop. Exit stairs and elevator cores serve as wayfinding beacons and help filter natural light. Its designers paid particular attention to the geometric configuration of the bus loop and surface entrances, enabling efficient circulation for the structure and Kiss & Ride drop-off areas. 

Best Design/Implementation of a Surface Parking Lot: 201 Claremont Street Green P, Toronto

Project Team:

  • Owner & Project Manager: Toronto  Parking Authority,
  • Architect: Marton Smith Landscape Architects
  • Planner: EGF Associates
  • Storm Water Management: Cook Consulting Engineers Limited,
  • General Contractor: Mopal Construction Limited  

Since its May 2013 opening, the Toronto Parking Authority (TPA)’s 201 Claremont Street P + has been praised by the neighboring community for meeting and exceeding the city’s development and greening standards for surface parking facilities. The 43-space lot has created a new green precedent for TPA and inspired other authority projects now in the works. Designed in consultation with the local community, it accommodates existing and future short-term public parking while aesthetically improving its 201 Claremont Street neighborhood. A paved area provides pedestrian connections and masonry seating areas, and a complementary lot incorporates permeable pavers in drive aisles to create a sustainable stormwater management system. High-albedo surface materials and tree plantings reduce the urban heat island effect. A unique living wall of live willows and raised concrete planting beds screens parking, reduces salt damage, and protects neighbors from pedestrian traffic. Primarily native plantings were specifically chosen for seasonal interest and year-round screening. 

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