Photos: Jeffrey Totaro for Clarke Caton Hintz Architects

“The parking structure blends very nicely with the environment. You don’t really even notice it.”

Wanda Lau


Parking Structures: 1000+ Cars

Ruppert Plaza Garage and Macombs Dam Rooftop Park

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A variety of challenges arose in creating a parking structure that encompassed nearly 1 million ft2 (93,000 m2), provided 1,700 parking spaces on three supported levels, and was capped by a 7 acre (2.8 hectare) rooftop park.

The original concept called for a steel-frame structure, but the design-build team quickly recognized that an all–precast concrete structural solution better met the design needs and construction schedule.

Foremost among the goals that precast concrete helped achieve was an open-air structure, which would eliminate the need for most of the mechanical ventilation, require fewer sprinklers, and provide other benefits. This was accomplished by creating airshafts along two sides, which combined with the long-span double tees to meet the requirements.

“Precast was a great choice for this parking structure,” says Wanda Lau, a member of the buildings awards jury. “Making it an open-air structure made it less intimidating. It’s also a durable material that can take a lot of high traffic. The parking structure blends very nicely with the environment. You don’t really even notice it.”

The rooftop park provides a key reason for that unobtrusiveness, but it also created a number of challenges, including the need to design for heavier loads and to upgrade waterproofing and fire separation. Components were designed to account for those upgrades, and those requirements were met with no delays in scheduling.

Extremely complex logistics included a site wedged between subway lines, Interstate 95, the Macomb’s Dam Bridge, and local street traffic. In spite of these challenges, construction continued during the baseball season and even during the World Series.

Spandrels were custom designed in color, material, and shape, creating an overall palette that suggested a grove of trees. Embedded thin brick was used in four shades of green, all of which were handmade in Nebraska and shipped to the precaster, where they were laid into the forms.

A contrasting gray shade was used for the spandrels to suggest the trunks of nearby trees. The spandrels were designed to cover only the ends of the tees, allowing thin cables to stretch from column to column. This maximized daylight that entered the building. The cables were posttensioned through the precast concrete columns, and a friction-fit steel connector was hidden within the columns.

“We were most impressed with the care taken to select the four colored bricks and the obvious integration of those into precast panels,” says Dave Craddock, a member of the buildings awards jury. “It offers a graceful and elegant solution to the programming needs. It is very much a piece of art in the final installation.”

Location: Bronx, N.Y.
Owner: New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, New York, N.Y.
Architect: Clarke Caton Hintz, Trenton, N.J.,
Engineer: Fay Spofford Thorndike, New York, N.Y.
Contractor: Prismatic/Hunter Roberts, Fairfield, N.J.
Precaster: Unistress Corporation, Pittsfield, Mass.,
Precast concrete specialty engineer: Hoch Associates, Ft. Wayne, Ind.
Project size: 914,760 ft2 (84,980 m2)
Project cost: $157 million