---- nicolas d’angelo, cambridge, usa, 2003.
33000m2 parking facility adjacent to the kennedy expressway in chicago, il. submission to the chicago prize international competition organized by the chicago art institute, il. selected as finalist, exhibited at the institute, june 2003.
Due to its main function as a parking garage and to its location next to the Kennedy Expressway, this building should act not so much as a gate but as a signal, ‘pulling’ users away to the side and into the city.
From the speed of the car, the perception of the city could be assimilated to that of reading a map: driveways become lines, channels; buildings become brief moments, references.
The image of this building evolves almost literally from this idea.
Sitting on a vacant lot to the east of the expressway, on the verge of invading its air space, closer to the expanded Loop it is connected to and away from the neighbor residential district to the west, the building renders in the distance in a mute fashion, reminiscent of that of some pieces of infrastructure (vents, chiller plants, water tanks) that appear throughout city landscapes, somehow disengaged from the eventful reality of the tissue.
The organization of the parking plan, with its necessary dimensions, is the core from which the geometry of the design derives. An array of 9 feet wide by 20 feet tall red colored pre-cast panels with 1ft circular perforations to allow light into the space, encloses the parking levels and conforms a box, only interrupted to the west side at the top, where the panels are replaced by glass.
This gesture not only suggests a change in program but it also emphasizes a direction in movement. The tilting of the columns at the ground level does the same: to evoke the idea of an east-west tension, almost as if the building had come walking from within the city to retrieve people and was ready to walk back.
The box floats above the ground floor, which, understood as the interface with the city at the slower pace of its street life, seamlessly resolves the linking between the concurring forms of transportation: car access and exit from parking, bus stop, taxi stand, bicycle parking and rental; and extends as a park that could ‘collect’ pedestrians coming from the ‘high density, mixed use’ corridor that Madison st. is expected to become in the future.
The roof houses complementary uses that are ‘static’, not part of the programmatic milieu that leads into or out of the city, but ones through which the sense of time can be attenuated, and contact with basic forms of nature regained.
Strategies can be planned for cities, but in its implementation, growth can hopefully remain open-ended, accidental, and ‘small’ in nature.
The City of Chicago is growing denser, and this project, perhaps provoking rather than answering questions, can be one of many simultaneous episodes in the characterization of this process.