Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
University of Houston Stadium Parking Garage in Houston, Texas by WHR Architects
September 29th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: WHR Architects
Designed by WHR Architects, University of Houston Stadium Parking Garage parking provides far more that parking. The 2,300 car facility contains a Barnes & Nobel Fan Shop, Cougar Express Mini Market, Taco Cabana restaurant, offices for UH Parking and Transportation and UH Parking Customer Services. With 85% of the university’s nearly 40,000 students commuting from around the sprawling City of Houston and its suburbs, reimagining the garage as an amenity project made sense for several reasons.
The parking garage is strategically located at heart of the new Stadium Precinct on the western edge of the campus walking distance from Robertson Stadium, Hofheinz Pavilion and, soon, the new METRORail Southeast Line. The high visibility location called for an architectural solution that would serve as a new gateway to the campus and, at the same time, reinforce a sense of campus identity. With frontage along Cougar Walk, the new pedestrian walkway that connects the stadium to various buildings in the district, the garage offered the design team an opportunity to create a lively ground level with shops and food service amenities for students and the many loyal alumni who return regularly for games and campus events. Cougar Walk will become a focus for campus activities as well as game day functions. It is already becoming real campus gathering spot with seating, lighting and even electrical outlets for students to use.
The design employs cost-effective buff color precast panels in two shades; the lighter of the two recalling the color and texture of the limestone used extensively throughout the historic areas of campus. The landmark stair tower incorporates the university’s logo and the distinctive UH red provides bright accents across the façade. The pavilion-like structure that houses the Taco Cabana stands out from the garage with pewter-colored metal panels and glass storefront windows, enlivening the garage exterior.
Inside the structure special attention was given to creating an open floor plate that gives users clear sight lines across the garage — an important safety consideration for students and faculty using the 24-hour facility.
During special events, entries and exits work together to handle arriving or departing vehicles, distinct parking areas link to serve overflow crowds, and weekday flow can be reversed to improve event traffic flow. These features, with the garage’s express ramp on the north side of the building, allow all vehicles to exit the garage within 30 minutes. Confining the ramp to one side will allow three trays of uninterrupted parking to occur on the south side of the garage.
The Stadium Parking Garage demonstrates that every building contributes to the sense of place on an academic campus. Whether it’s a residence hall, classroom building or a garage, the architecture of the building is part of the fabric of the campus and communicates the values of the institution to the students and to the community.
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