Magazine

Weaving Ideas in Parking Structures

Laura Stoneburner

Forget what you know about traditional parking structures. Standing out as an architectural gem, the year-old Carlisle Street Garage in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, seems to define unique design in multiple ways. Housing vehicles and environmentally friendly forms of transportation, this LEED Silver-designated structure also stands out for being a sustainably driven project that will have a positive effect on the community for years to come.

Designed by Macdonald Zuberec Ensslen Architects (MZE), in conjunction with Halsall Associates, the garage defies the stereotypical image of a parking structure.

“When most people think of a parking garage, they don’t normally picture something real aesthetically pleasing,” said Greg Redden, a Principal at MZE and the project’s lead architect. “We looked at it differently. This structure takes up a lot of space and protects the valuable transportation of those who use it, so why not project this importance through its architecture?”

MZE made the decision to work with W.S. Tyler Canada Ltd., particularly the Architecture and Design division. The company manufactures woven wire mesh, and parking garage use is its main area of expertise. W.S. Tyler’s A&E Division Manager, Greg Bryson, explains another real benefit is in providing architects with a means to be more creative.

“We’ve found that architects are always looking for new materials to add to their design palette,” he said. “[Our] wire mesh is offered in thousands of patterns, allowing architects to create concepts that have never been done before. Depending on the application, design intent and mesh pattern chosen, it can be the difference between a nicely designed building and an architectural masterpiece.”

With the decision to work with woven wire mesh finalized, MZE then had to choose exactly which style it would use. When making its final decision, MZE particularly focused on the company’s Dogla-Trio style of wire mesh.

The architect knew wire mesh would provide a host of benefits, but safety was a primary factor in the structure’s design. The Dogla-Trio features small openings and rounded edges, and is designed to prevent pedestrians of any age from easily climbing or injuring themselves on it.

Some 9,257 square feet of the wire mesh was strategically placed on the outside walls and inside the stairwells of the six-story l parking structure, with the largest mesh panels – about 85 feet in height – tensioned through the center of the stair towers.

The Dogla-Trio wire mesh is designed to enhance the structure’s safety by acting as the main guard and final safety barrier to prevent falls and fatal accidents. Furthermore, the company says, it acts as the railing guard to prevent pedestrian falls in the stair towers.

In addition to its physical properties that promote safety, the wire mesh’s partial transparency transforms the building envelope from day to night. When lighted from the outside, the mesh appears opaque. However, when lighted from inside, the mesh becomes transparent.

The mesh also is designed to reduce headlight glare / light pollution, while at the same time providing better visibility from the outside, potentially reducing the likelihood of crime.

Other benefits the wire mesh provides the Carlisle Street Parking Garage’s façade is an appealing “faux window look” that lets in an ideal amount of natural light. On the other hand, the mesh provides some measure of sun protection, as well as natural ventilation allowing harmful emissions to escape the garage.

One of the parking structure’s LEED-certified building strategies centered on maximizing recycled content, minimizing construction waste, and total elimination and/or significant reduction in the use of materials containing volatile organic compounds.

In addition, the garage’s canopy roof was designed to collect rainwater that’s used to wash multiple decks of the structure and to water local landscaping. The garage’s LED lighting fixtures, activated by motion sensors, use up to 50% less energy, depending on traffic volumes.

A variety of covered bicycle parking stations promote alternative “green” transportation use. And the structure has been set up so that EV charging stations can easily be installed in the future when electric vehicles are more commonly used.

The Carlisle Street Parking Garage is “a shining example” of how wire mesh is gaining popularity, W.S. Tyler officials say. Among its benefits to this parking structure, they add, wire mesh overall contributes to sustainable building construction. They point to some of the sustainable and environmentally friendly characteristics of wire mesh, including:

•    Recycled content – Most wire mesh is made with recycled content.

•    Sound dispersion – It can act to reflect and disperse

sound waves to improve acoustics and minimize sound pollution.

•    Sun Protection – It can control the amount of light transmitted         into and reflected off a structure, or G-Value, and can be designed to achieve specific G-Value levels tailored to the project needs.

•    Increased Ventilation – Wire mesh allows harmful emissions

to escape through its openings to improve air quality inside an open structure.

Completed in January 2012 and officially opened in February 2012, the Carlisle Street Parking Garage has resulted in some positive feedback.

“Everyone from local residents to construction workers to city representatives [has] had very positive feedback,” MZE’s Redden said last year. “That is a testament to its unique and aesthetic qualities.”

Contact Laura Stoneburner, a Public Relations Writer for Ironclad Marketing, at laura@ironcladmktg.com. To view more MZE projects, go to www.mzearchitects.com. For more about W.S. Tyler’s wire mesh, go to www.weavingideas.net.



 

Article Abstract from April, 2013




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