With the advent of autonomous car technology expected to radically reshape our commutes and roadways, planners and architects believe the future of parking lots will be much more interesting. New self-parking systems mean more space and more adaptive structures.
Outside of Nashville, Tennessee, an office-park and mixed-use under development called Brentwood will have subterranean facilities that takes advantage of forthcoming technologies to repurpose valuable above-ground space and leave a smaller footprint.
Smarter cars mean smaller spaces, he says, and therefore less development costs associated with parking. As technology advances and more cities begin to adapt, the shift may lead more and more municipalities to begin to figure out how to repurpose empty floors of parking garages, or start moving garages to the edge of town (since cars will eventually be able to valet themselves).
The Brentwood development isn’t the only place where designers and local government officials see a big advantage, and potential windfall, in pursuing the next generation of parking garages. Amy Korte, principal designer at Boston-based architectural firm Arrowstreet, told Boston.com that she envisions a future where self-navigating cars need much less space to park, allowing planners to cut 4 inches off either side of a traditional space (21 square feet in total). That means vehicular storage spaces can be reactivated. Experts at her firm estimate that the rise in driverless vehicles, as well as the wider adoption of sharing services such as Zipcar, will reduce the overall demand for parking will decline by 5.7 billion square meters (61 billion square feet) by 2035
In Somerville, Massachusetts, planners seeks to reduce the space allocated to parking by tapping the potential of self-driving technology. Along with Audi’s Urban Future Initiative and the Federal Realty Investment Trust, are working on a garage design that could cut needed parking space by 62 percent, which Audi estimates could save $100 million over the course of the project’s completion.