Lighter Side: Ajax GO station wins parking award

by Olivia D'Orazio04 Jun 2014
That new architectural fixture in town might not be a trendy new hotel or a cool museum; it might just be a parking garage.

As the seven winners of the International Parking Institute’s 2014 Awards of Excellence competition demonstrate, parking structures don’t need to be concrete eyesores. Winners of the 32nd annual competition range from a parking structure at a train station in Ajax, Ont., to a green parking garage located beneath the Boston Commons in Massachusetts.

"The 2014 winners showcase how significantly parking facilities and operations have been transformed in recent years as a result of advances in technology focused on efficiency and sustainability," International Parking Institute (IPI) Executive Director Shawn Conrad said in a press release. 

"Many are architecturally striking hubs that facilitate mass and alternative transit and a variety of pedestrian activities; others conceal their practical function with lushly planted parks that enhance the entire neighborhood. It's fair to say parking is transforming communities, making them greener, easier to navigate, and certainly more livable."

Canadian winners include the GO Train parking structure in Ajax, Ont., and the parking lot at 201 Claremont Street in Toronto.

In Ajax, the six-level and 1,300-space parking structure was designed by architect IBI Group and engineering firm Read Jones Christoffersen. The building was designed by Kenaidan Contracting, while MCW Consultants oversaw the mechanical and electrical engineering. The building prominently features a wave of green aluminum tubes as well as modern glass and concrete components, making the structure more of a landscape staple than an eye sore.

In Toronto, architect Marton Smith Landscape Architects, planner EGF Associates, storm water manager Cook Consulting Engineers and general contractor Mopal Construction ensured that the parking lot at 201 Claremont Street featured a strong green presence. The 43-space lot was designed with community input and includes a paved area that provides pedestrian walkways and masonry seating areas. Willow trees create a wall around the lot to screen parking, reduce salt damage and protect neighbours from pedestrian traffic.

Founded in 1962, the IPI is the largest association of parking professionals and the parking industry. The Awards of Excellence are decided by a panel of judges that include architects, parking corporations, and city, airport and university officials.

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