The City of Santa Monica Parking Structure #6 in downtown Santa Monica, California, serves several major local and tourist destinations. The public parking structure was completed in December 2013 and is certified LEED Gold.
Located near the Third Street Promenade at Second Street, the garage has eight above-ground and three subterranean levels. It boasts 750 parking spaces, over 650 square meters of retail space, storage facilities for a local farmers market, as well as 90 bicycle racks and 19 motorcycle spots.
The public realm at Second Street is an energetic overlap of retail stores, shoppers, pedestrians, bikers, motorists, landscaping, and opportunities for people to sit and rest. But with this innovative structure, the public realm does not stop at the ground floor, it continues up along the entire building face via an exterior diagonal stair.
This dynamic circulation zone at the façade invites all parking patrons to make their way to Second Street, thus reducing way-finding confusion, a problem which plagues most parking garages.
Patrons cascade up and down the exterior stair, weaving in and out of the plane of the façade. The façade is pulled away at the stair, safely bringing the movement of people to the fore. This serves a twofold purpose: to ensure safety in visibility and offer unique views of the ocean nearby.
The façade functions as a light-enhancement screen which is carefully crafted to bring light deep into the building structure, eliminating harsh glare at the edge. This screen is composed of metal panels, which are folded outward to catch and redirect high angle sunlight into the depths of the structure.
The portion of the façade that remains unfolded is perforated to allow for the passage of low angle light directly into the garage and to provide a high degree of visual transparency. This combination allows a greater amount of light to enter the garage over a longer period of time.
In addition to the light-optimizing strategies of the facade, the parking structure employs photovoltaic solar roof panels and has several electrical vehicle charging stations for patrons' use.
From the street, the highly transparent façade is enlivened with the passage of people, and the constant, ever-changing backdrop of cars. This dynamic façade not only provides a functional lighting aspect for the parking structure, it also creates a strong identity as it activates the streetscape.
Founded in 1989, Behnisch Architekten is an award-winning, internationally recognized cross-disciplinary architecture firm. Behnisch Architekten’s search for innovative and sustainable solutions while making optimum use of natural resources has produced a rich variety of buildings, each of which responds to specific user requirements and site conditions. Recent projects include the John and Frances Angelos Law Center at the University of Baltimore, the Harvard University Science and Engineering Complex, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) administrative building in Geneva, and the City of Santa Monica Parking Structure #6. Behnisch Architekten has offices in Stuttgart and Munich, Germany; and in Boston, Massachusetts. The firm’s projects are widely published and exhibited worldwide, and its staff members are actively engaged in architectural education and are regular lecturers at top universities and conferences.