After the green renovation of the Gehry-designed Santa Monica Place into a fantastic open air mall, the surrounding infrastructure, especially the parking garages, needed an overhaul. The city brought in Brooks + Scarpa (formerly Pugh + Scarpa) to design improvements for the Frank Gehry garages at Santa Monica Place Mall as well as eight other city owned parking structures surrounding the popular 3rd Street Promenade. The eco improvements included adding prefabricated cement board panels to the exterior of the garages as well as making the area more walkable and pleasant for pedestrians. New ground floor retail spaces were added to the garages, transforming them into dual purpose buildings. And soon, the garages will be topped with a 1,000 solar panel system to generate electricity for the complex.
The main upgrade to the garages was to clad the exterior in a new shade screen, providing privacy and shade, as well as an a more attractive appearance. A single mass-produced and repeatable panel made up of a series of cement board slats, which resembles a shipping pallet, was used throughout the project. Measuring approximately 10 feet by 16 feet and arranged in a slightly different position or orientation relative to each adjacent panel, the appearance seems organic and non-repeating. Overall, the result is one that is aesthetically pleasing, visually diverse, and shades the cars and makes the garages seem more like buildings than just a place to park.
On the ground floor of the garages, a number of retail spaces were constructed to improve the streetscape so that the area surrounding the mall isn’t such a dead zone. Brooks + Scarpa also added a bike station to lock up your sweet cruiser, improved pedestrian access, signage and public art like a giant mosaic and a trippy metal ball installation. The garages are also equipped with the infrastructure to handle a future rooftop canopy solar system to provide shade for cars and electricity for the garages and some of the city’s public buildings.