Exterior photo of the Miami Dade College Hialeah Campus parking garage. Evening photo with bright blue skies. Garage lights on. Vehicle lights create streaks on the adjacent street.
Haskell designed and built a parking garage for Miami Dade College that included occupied space on the ground floor, two surface lots and a central energy plant. 

September 12, 2023

Holistic Design, Innovative Construction: Garages Aren’t Just Parking 

Collaborative, imaginative design and state-of-the-art construction methods make possible parking garages that are functional and attractive. 


No matter the facility, be it an airport terminal or a college campus, a hospital or shopping district, multifamily residential or downtown development, the need for parking is a constant. In areas of high population density, the answer is often up, not out. 

Enter the parking structure. 

“If you have a big building, you probably need a parking garage,” said Alan Wilson, Haskell Vice President and Chief Architect. “You can have an industrial facility with a high density and not a lot of land or a college that needs more parking. Parking garages are something that different markets need.”  

Parking garages are generally considered unattractive, confusing and dark, but that needn’t be the case. Ramping and circulation patterns are crucial to a garage’s convenience, safety and end-user experience.

Certainly, Haskell’s designers ensure intuitive and functional parking and traffic flow, but they also routinely create structures that blend with and even enhance their surroundings. 

A case in point: The Sports Complex Garage in Jacksonville, Florida. 

“I remember showing plans of it to the mayor, and he said, ‘That’s a parking garage?’” Wilson said. “We were able to use different materials, colors, details and design elements to make the structure’s exterior match the surrounding buildings, and now, it looks like it belongs.” 

But parking garages can be, and in many cases are, much more. Designers consider bicycle and pedestrian users, space for retail and mixed-use occupancy, art and other applied aesthetics, and even the introduction of solar panels.

The structure can fit a holistic vision of the surrounding area. Stakeholder input clarifies objectives and strategies related to its projected cost, schedules and aesthetics. Workshops, team communication sessions, cost estimators and materials and construction experts manage expectations to ensure that the design thinking relates to the client’s desires. Concrete exteriors can be created in a range of methods, with or without a painted coating or even thin-brick cast into the columns and panels.

While the final design is critical to project success, site logistics during construction are equally important to address material delivery and handling, traffic flow, safety, construction lay-down areas and other challenges. Haskell’s field teams have vast experience operating in tight project footprints and can build parking facilities efficiently and quickly, minimizing cost and disruption.  

Technical elements are also considerations. Solar panels can be introduced to offset the facility’s power usage, and stormwater treatment can be handled creatively to accommodate landlocked locations. In some cases, Haskell has employed a unique method for storing stormwater by using the space under the ramps in the garage for water collection, eliminating the need for runoff into a nearby pond or other groundwater storage facility and allowing every space in the garage to have a specific use.

“We build the same thing as everyone else but put more emphasis on the architectural side; we develop garages for the user’s desire and not solely for parking,” said John Norris, Haskell VP of Construction & Manufacturing. “Garages can be boxes but with the right knowledge and focus the circulation and exterior details can dramatically improve the parking experience and safety of a garage and improve the overall project for the client.”

In dozens of cases, Haskell has demonstrated how to think beyond the garage and focus on how the structure will augment and improve its environment. Collaborative, imaginative design and state-of-the-art construction methods make possible parking garages that are functional and attractive. 

Solving complex architectural, engineering and construction projects with expertise and imagination is what we do. Contact us to discuss your facilities needs. 

Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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