Maintaining Buildings & Grounds

Fix It Or Forget It?

parking structure restoration


Before and After

When the lifecycle curve of a parking structure starts taking a dramatic turn, an owner is faced with a decision — to fix the growing problems or give up and start anew. Unless the cost for mitigating the problems and continual maintenance outweighs constructing a complete new structure, the best and most ecological option is to give the existing structure a longer lifespan by repairing and continuing to use it. In this approach, restoration by its nature can be considered as sustainable actions.

Walker Restoration Consultants recently did some first aid on the Duke University Parking Garage II in Durham, NC. The Duke garage contains 2,752 spaces and is an eight-level cast-in-place concrete parking structure. It serves both visitors and employees of the Duke University Medical Center. The first five levels were constructed in 1977, and the additional three levels were added in a vertical expansion in 1988.

After a thorough evaluation, several repairs were done on the structure, including: Replacing the entire electrical system, including addition of new generator for emergency power; upgrading all lighting with new fixtures and daylight harvesting (seen to the right); replacing all parking equipment specific to user groups to decrease wait times; replacing and adding pedestrian and vehicular wayfinding signage; painting overhead surfaces and pedestrian cores to increase light effectiveness and enhance pedestrian wayfinding; and modifying function to enable nesting capabilities, increase vehicular flow and provide additional spaces.

Following the work, the Duke project won First Place in the Parking Structure Renovated/Rehabilitated Category from the Carolinas Parking Association.

Properly designed repairs that are implemented in a timely manner will minimize future maintenance expenses and material replacement. In addition to sustainable and durable repairs, many parking structure restoration projects may include energy-conserving lighting upgrades, architectural and accessibility enhancements and access control improvements that reduce pollution from queued vehicles. These restoration practices allow meeting, and often exceeding, LEED, USEPA and other sustainable standards.

Although aging structures may be giving you a headache, keeping good use of existing structures relieves the carbon footprint on the earth. “There is nothing more environmentally responsible or that has a lower carbon footprint than simply restoring existing structures rather than demolishing them and building new ones,” observes Dan Moser, a principal for Walker Restoration Consultants.

Source: Walker Parking Consultants (

This article originally appeared in the issue of .