In the quest to reclaim urban space, parking lots and similar structures have been a popular battleground for urbanists and architects, as they often represent large tracts of unused land that offer little existing aesthetic contribution. Now, in Long Island, arguably the ParkingPLUS proposals, which are a follow-up to 2010′s Build a Better Burb competition, encourage behaviors that have created more livable downtowns while combining personal and public transit in striking new configurations. Though these proposals to reinvigorate a 4,000 sq ft parking lot are still mere pipe dreams right now, each was carefully examined for cost and suitability to each area’s needs, making them a possibility for the future.
The Rockville Center site, designed by Utile, Inc, tackles an area well-served by public transit. However, a large parking lot separates Rockville’s ‘landing pad’ from its thriving downtown. Inspired by the Viaduc des Arts in Paris, It creates a “civic gathering place” by acknowledging the town’s weekly cycles of activity: during the weekend, the monumental arches would be freed from their parking duties and become a pedestrian-friendly area for marketplaces and festivals.
Finding parking can be difficult in Patchogue, but dub Studios‘s Shared Parking ‘bracket’ idea would help evenly spread out the demand and get people walking more at the same time. Wayfinding signs would help direct motorists to free spots, and though those spots might be a little further from their destination than would be ideal, the intervening areas would be designed for pleasurable walking, with local businesses adding distinct character.
Roger Sherman Architecture + Urban Design goes beyond form and function to explore the idea of a year-round recreational area for kids of all ages in Ronkonkoma. The transportation component would use elevated parking to shield the train station from the rain, but the truly exciting part is the fanciful all-season bubble-wrapped portion, which could include “soccer fields, a hockey rink, mini-golf and a driving range, a go-cart track, and a cricket field stadium with seating for 9,000 spectators.” The plan would also include a much-needed connection to nearby Islip Airport.
Finally, LTL Architects‘ plan for Westbury would double the amount of parking available by the train to encourage commuting by rail. Its unique terraced design would also integrate rooftop gardens, terraced houses, shopping and startup incubator space.
Best of all, these solutions are designed to be modular and recombinable, meaning that all the proposals are potential winners: “these ‘PLUSes’ can be added to parking decks, or they can be sited on land currently occupied by surface parking that would be freed up by structured parking,” says the Long Island Index report. Residents are naturally skeptical, but the creativity of these ideas, combined with the ingenuity of those involved in their execution, could revitalize Long Island’s demographics, making it once again a model for American living.