Fourth Avenue Parking Garage
2006 MCAA International Excellence in Masonry Award Winner
Mark 1, Inc.
Architect: Contacts Without Company
The design concept was to blend new construction harmoniously with the existing and delicate urban fabric that surrounded the site. Maintaining the consistent yet unique feel of varying two and three story walkup retail buildings was done by pulling the boundaries of the new parking garage structure up to the sidewalk edge, keeping true to the spirit of the urban fabric apparent in the heart of the downtown district. The new Judicial Center with its classical appearance, following precedence of the existing court house, was set back from the sidewalk to create a plaza feel in front. The concept was to emphasize the importance of this civic building by treating it as a visual anomaly in the tight urban fabric.
Materials used in the various projects are similar to those found on surrounding buildings. Detail was carefully chosen to emulate, but not replicate the exquisite styles found in the area. Masonry, stone, and metal window frames were used predominatenly. The parking garage structure was clad in a masonry veneer designed to emulate individual storefronts. Bays between columns were divided to create a vertical break. Details were added at street level such as a display window, window shutters, and canvas awnings to further blend with its surroundings. Window mullion frames, designed in a similar pattern as the neighboring Judicial Center, were added at upper openings in the masonry to appear as "windows".
Maintaining the feel of Main Street proved very important in this design. Pedestrian traffic is vital to the mom-and-pop retail shops in the Main Street retail stretch. A key to encouraging that flow was eliminating the gap in the urban fabric that existed with the previously existing surface parking lot. This was accomplished by pulling the new parking garage structure up to the sidewalk to be in line with the Main Street buildings. Further down the block, the new Judicial Center building was set back off the street to highlight its importance and uniqueness as a civic building and provide a civic plaza. Providing such details and sensitivity while not compromising the functionality was an added strength of the parking garage.
One of the major challenges was in determining how to transition from the historic two and three story retail buildings on Main Street to a block with new structures and entirely different functions. The transition began with the parking structure where a faux façade was created to give the feel of individual storefronts. The challenge continued in determining how far to go with details in order to create the illusion. Subtle brick color changes and generally simplistic brick patterns were coupled with accent features such as canvas awnings, aluminum shutters, and aluminum window mullions in masonry openings. Due to the functional structure of the garage, the design forfeited many of the early varying parapet lines and façade protrusions. The results, however, succeed in incorporating a new design within an historic setting.