Something like this?

Before Steel wrote about this parking garage blight (bottom photo) a few weeks ago, I had been planning on writing something myself. During a visit to Midtown in NYC I stayed at a hotel within walking distance of the parking garage pictured in the top photo. The more I looked at the structure, the more that I thought about the nasty parking garage on Pearl. It was apparent that a building such as this could be transformed into a relatively modern (or retro modern) looking structure with the simple addition of a metal screen facade, similar to the one in Midtown NYC. 

Steel is right, in that Buffalo does not deserve to be stuck with such eyesores, when there are relatively simple solutions to these aesthetic blunders. 
In the comment section, Buff 2020 said this:
What’s the economic argument? What would a face lift look like? How much would it cost? If there are ____ parking spots in the building, how much more could the Owner charge if they invested in the facade? How long would it take recoup the cost? Are there are facade improvement grants / matching funds out there to help the Owner?
I am of the belief that if the City can help to identify fixes such as the one that we see here, and is proactive in its approach and dealings with these types of property owners… and can even help to identify potential matching facade funds, then we would be ahead of the game rather than wallowing around waiting for disinterested property owners to do the right thing.

About the author  ⁄ queenseyes

Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Catalyst behind the Pierce-Arrow Film Arts Center. Throws The Witches Ball at The Hotel @ The Lafayette. Themed New Years mayhem at various locations. Next up: Porchfest... Also offers package tours of the city for groups or individuals. Contact Newell Nussbaumer | Newell@BuffaloRising.com

41 comments
JohnMarko
JohnMarko

Is there a way to add a picture to a response?

Parking structures don't need to be "ugly" at all. And, that NYC example is horrible and not an "improvement"!

Clarksville Tennessee has a great "traditional style" structure that one would be hard-pressed to notice is, in fact, a parking structure at all - it was built after massive tornados destroyed much of downtown many years ago. It has no other functions, and even the sidewalk level is very pleasing to walk along - and it looks similar in its "bones" to the parking structure mentioned in this thread.

There are some great parking garage exteriors in most of Honolulu - they are required as part of the land use zoning ordinances - and usually occupy the first few floors of a tower/structure above the first/ground level (which usually has retail or some other similar space).

And a while back, we had a seminar on some imaginative uses of screening for parking garages that were actually quite beautiful - and put that crappy NYC parking garage in it proper place as something NOT to emulate!!!

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grad94
grad94

didn't work too well for broadway market, which has the feel of a market inside a ramp garage instead of a ramp garage above a market, if you know what i mean.

Tim
Tim

Maybe my comment was uncalled for, sorry. I understand you. Aesthetics in buffalo have fell off a cliff because we don't demand excellence in our city like we used to.

Jay D
Jay D

I would drape it in velvet

Tim
Tim

You really went off the deep end again. Without your swimmies. And don't forget your scuba gear so you can look for sunken rings and keep yourself entertained while everyone else is above water focusing on each others company. Damn.

PaulBuffalo
PaulBuffalo

I think the owner should hire Christo to wrap this parking garage in saffron fabric.

laldm
laldm

When I first saw the photo in this article, I thought the premise was "Buffalo's parking garages are bad, but at least New York has worse ones." Imagine my surprise when I realized the article was saying the NYC one is what we want. Absolutely not - at least the one shown here could be considered historic, if forlorn. if we must have parking garages, they should be above first floor retail (not just one store, a whole wall of first floor retail with the garage accessed from one small entry point, or ideally the rear or the side) and there should be real design to them or they should be hidden behind a layer of apartments or offices.

Chris
Chris

How about parking ramps that you don't even notice because they are on top of ground floor retail?

grad94
grad94

i dunno, i think esenwein or whoever designed it got it right the first time.

paulsobo
paulsobo

Well this gets down to asthetics and its a discussion the Buffalonians need to have if they want a city with a quality of life where people are willing to live, work, invest and patronize.

Its a proven fact that nuisance crimes, rudeness, litter, etc all happen in areas that have the appearance of being in decay, being unmaintained, etc. Neither do people want to invest in such areas.

And this is the dividing line...there are poor libertarians who say my rights and my property...mind your own business. Who speaks for the community? Not you.

And there are those who have a more communal philosophy, where people (including property owners, business owners, etc) have a responsibility to their community in exchange for the rights to participate in the wealth of the community. If you dont want to be part of the community then live and make your money elsewhere. If you want to be part of our community then you have responsibilities to contribute to it. The exploiter that takes or the participant that contributes.

Once Buffalonians were not shy about the world class art, architecture, music, parks, industry, etc. They wanted the best that the would had to offer. Today there are huge obstacles because government, unions, civil servants, businesses, ... they all want to exploit their own interest. Few hold them accountable to the higher standards Buffalo needs to succeed.

buffloonitick
buffloonitick

great comment for sight impaired readers.

i tried not looking at it, i closed my eyes but the ugliness burned right thru my eyelids and i could still see it. and it still hurts... it was like staring at the sun for a long time.

Tom
Tom

Not sure about the structure of the building. But why not just remove those small windows and darker stone? and put a big window in each spot. Again idk how the structure of the building is but I think putting some sort of glass there instead would look nicer.. Just thinking of an idea though, not entirely sure how the end result would look. Not a fan of the metal fencing..

warehousedweller
warehousedweller

WHY ARE ALL OF YOU COUCH POTATO'S WORRIED AND COMPLAINING ABOUT A PRIVATLY OWNED BUILDING ? MAYBE THE OWNER WANTS IT TO LOOK LIKE THIS !ALSO IF HE MAKES IT LOOK LIKE A MILLION BUCK , THEN THE CITY WOULD RAISE HIS ASSESMENT AND TAX'S. BETTER YET WHY DONT ALL OF YOU LOOSERS PUT ON YOUR WORK CLOTHES [IF YOU HAVE ANY] AND RENT A COUPLE MAN LIFTS , THEN SCRAPE IT DOWN. THEN GO BUY THE PAINT [YOUR CHICE OF COLOR] AND PAINT IT ! BETTER YET JUST DON'T LOOK AT IT !

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

I knew you would appreciate that.

Actually, I do have a dead horse, but only the body, I left the head on your porch.

LouisTully
LouisTully

Hahaha! You're funny! You don't happen to have a dead horse in your garage do you?

buffloonitick
buffloonitick

the top picture is ok if you like a medieval chain mail look to your parking ramp.

Old First Ward
Old First Ward

You may soon indeed have one.

Or as Don Esmonde would say:

"A parking ramp designed as a project."

"The $20 million-plus, 845-space parking ramp turns a reasonably scaled project into a bizarre-looking monolith that dwarfs its surroundings and discourages the walkability that the downtown waterfront needs."

buffalorr
buffalorr

The iconic twin Marina Towers Condominiums in downtown Chicago are an interesting example of parking garage design.

The first twenty floors of the buildings comprise the garages.

Forty floors of condominiums sit on top of the parking structures causing the apts. to start at the 21st floor level which provide all units with spectacular views of Lake Michigan and the skyline.

There is no screening on the walls of the parking areas, only steel rods to stop vehicles from driving over the edges.

The cars are fully visible from the street and somehow it all seems to work visually.

Obviously Buffalo has nothing on this scale, but the example seen in that complex could be adapted to many smaller structures that exist in our city.

As a previous commenter stated, this type of building is honest in showing its use rather than trying to hide it behind tacky looking screening.

Sometimes simple design is better looking than false facades.

LouisTully
LouisTully

I was spinning my wheels trying to find the example in google maps I was thinking of in Chicago, but a parking garage doesn't have to look like a parking garage... or ugly. And I'm sure it wouldn't be unnecessarily costly to achieve that.

That being said, I'd rather have an ugly parking ramp than an ugly surface lot.

rpm40
rpm40

Yuck, that metal cage behemoth is just as bad.

Here's an article I came across of some interesting ramps:

http://www.thecoolist.com/parking-garage-design-10-modernist-masterpieces/

I'd like to see parking ramps hidden behind storefronts, or in the middle floors of taller structures, etc. to deemphasize them- they're huge, and they're everywhere. Most of them don't need to be in your face. But for the ones that are there, Facade improvements can go a long way. I think the art idea is clever. Plenty of options!

Tim
Tim

This building does not need an expensive metal shade covering it. The NY garage looks like it is draped with construction netting, which is not attractive. Does anyone know the name of the owner? I would write him a letter suggesting (nicely) that he spend a few grand to paint the thing, which would be the most practical aesthetic solution for this particular garage. Not cost prohibitive at all.

Buffaloian
Buffaloian

Maybe coddling is the wrong word but property owners still should be required to upkeep and maintain their properties to what is appropriate to it's location; this parking garage is located in downtown Buffalo not some industrial park. The Fire training tower in Tonawanda looks better than this place. Apparently the owner is clearly more concerned with making as much profit as possible from his property than how it effects surrounding businesses.

A well thought out and enforceable building code is the answer but this is Buffalo... where we OK Dry-Fit facades on our old buildings facing a Pedestrian Transit Mall in the heart of downtown.

WCPerspective
WCPerspective

I have to agree- awful! Is that a chain link fence facade?

NBuffguy
NBuffguy

What does that statement even mean? So what if the city "can help to identify fixes such as the one that we see here"? Once the fixes are indentified, then who pays for them? The tax payer? The business owner? What would motivate the owner to spend money, and probably a ton of it, on such a fix? Proactive in its approach and dealings with these types of property owners? What does that mean? Help to identify potential matching facade funds? That's a lovely thought, but I don't know where these supposed "matching facade funds" come from. Well, I do actually. They usually come from the taxpayers. And with the government, on all levels, basically out of money (think sequestration) it's hard to imagine the city being able to find money for this owner to fix the appearance of his garage. I would like to be wrong about that, but this whole premise seems unrealistic to me.

GinghamQuaker
GinghamQuaker

This can't be real life? That NYC garage is horrible!

5to81ALLDAY
5to81ALLDAY

Buffalo parking garages are the WORST! (coming from an NYC resident)

derek
derek

paint would help. offer some square footage to budding artists, get their work out there on display, show some of buffalo's culture and pretty the place up for a relatively low cost - free labor from the artists as they should be excited to be public and maybe set up donations for paint???

300miles
300miles

OMG, seriously? That NYC garage is god-awful-horrible. I'd rather leave ours alone as it is today than turn it into that thunderdome cage thing.

Just cleaning it up and re-install the ground floor windows would do wonders.

NBuffguy
NBuffguy

I am asking this in a serious way. Is this property owner breaking any laws? Because if he isn't, then the city not interfering with the owner's business isn't exactly "coddling" him.

Daniel Sack
Daniel Sack

Right. Why rely on the City? What, you think they should work for the money we send to City Hall?

JSmith
JSmith

No, not like that at all.

DeanerPPX
DeanerPPX

This facade WAS nice, then got ruined by a series of poor choices. When built in the early part of last century, it embraced the fact that it was for cars by using concrete and glass details that were subtly car-themed. Almost a miniature Chrysler Building in the details that were later hacked off to be replaced by concrete block.

But some of the worst looking parking ramps are the ones that try too hard to hide what they really are. I've seen ramps that are very well disguised as an office building, except for the glaring error that the floors are at an angle to the windows. Or the entire facade is covered over in some material that doesn't fit ANYTHING except to scream "I'm hiding something even uglier!"

Some of the best architecture includes buildings that are very honest. They don't try to be cathedrals, but they find a graceful way to indicate that there is a warehouse inside.

One of my favorite parking ramps is in Atlanta, it playfully puts the parking bumper right AT the facade and then extends a security fence out like a balcony. When you walk by, you KNOW it is a parking ramp because you can see the front and back ends of the cars hanging out, like people sticking their heads out the windows. That playfulness and honesty actually WORKS to the benefit of a building that would otherwise be drab or ugly.

STEEL
STEEL

We gotta break the habit of coddling property owners who are wrecking the city.

Buffalogni
Buffalogni

"I am of the belief that if the City can help to identify fixes such as the one that we see here, and is proactive in its approach and dealings with these types of property owners..."

What is stopping you? Someone just send the owner a nice letter with some ideas. Or go interview the person to learn their story. We gotta break the habit of relying on the "City".

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