J. Shonk…a photographer inspired.

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8:20pm, January 22nd, 2013. Its a random Tuesday night & I have just finished a great dinner with Lisa (the wifey) & Teddy (the older brother that adopted me 8 years ago), & with a glass of Chilean white wine in hand & I am feeling super inspired to get into some work. Set up on the couch with Sportscenter on the TV, I am locked into my zone about to get into it & out of nowhere I receive an email from fellow San Diego Architectural Foundation Director Jerry Shonkwiler, otherwise affectionately known as ‘J. Shonk’.

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Rather non-descript, as you can see above, his email simply provided a link with a link to a 1950’s Texaco ad. Now, a little background on Jerry for those who don’t know him – he is a retired Architect & fantastic photographer who is dedicated to an ongoing education into the profession of architecture, often expressed through his photography, I myself am the proud owner of one of his prints, & I consider him somewhat of a mentor through my involvement in SDAF. So, without a moments hesitation, I clicked the link to see what could J.Shonk be sharing. Here it is…Jerry’s link

The link leads me to a fantastic page full of historical 1950’s photography of gas stations. Some Texaco, as the email suggested, but a good mix of photography that epitomizes the evolution of the motorcar in the US throughout the 1950’s where by more people could afford this luxury & they became more than ever a symbol of freedom & ‘the American Dream’ to get out to explore the open road. A great series of photos no doubt, inspiring…I could totally understand why Jerry wanted to share these. However, as I glanced up & down the page, noticing initially the shapes of the cars & how some of the architecture was a reflection of the car design, & visa versa, I was stopped in my scrolling when I came across a photo of a ‘stacked’ car parking system…in the 1950’s!

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What the? An efficient car stacking parking solution in the 1950’s? I couldn’t believe it! So, with the only recognizable detail from the photo being ‘Modish Bldg‘, I jumped over to Google to learn more about this. Luckily, this is a notable building in Portland, Oregon & there is a website called ‘Vintage Portland’ that explains more about this  site. You can check it out here.

To put this in somewhat of a context, Ivan & I have had the opportunity to experience mechanical parking solutions in person. They are all over the place in Sydney & I have seen how convenient they really are. Also we have been able to work on projects that incorporated mechanical parking solution projects in Sydney over the past 10+ years. From narrow (7m wide) commercial buildings, to complete renovation of a hotel into a 90+ condo development, we have seen how incorporating mechanical parking can provide extremely efficient parking solutions for site restricted urban projects. Over the past 18 months or so, we have been exploring a number of sites throughout San Diego that could incorporate this kind of solution to maximize a developer’s yield on an infill site.

It’s hard to think in a city like San Diego, with so much vacant, underdeveloped land & such a dedication to ‘parking lots’ (to be fair, I think we have almost as many anonymous  5 story parking structures as we do activated office, residential or mixed-use buildings downtown), that this kind of parking solution could be embraced, but that doesn’t stop me appreciating this solution, or the random email from Jerry on this Tuesday night that inspired this rambling. Thanks Jerry…I need to refill the wine glass now.

One comment

  1. Patrick

    I’m sure we all wish white wine would make us write like this! Efficient parking like this is created when demand is high enough to pay for the stack parking system. Unfortunately in places like San Diego, urban planning rules require acres of underground parking for all new buildings. In effect, when we rent an office or storefront or buy a condo downtown, we pay for that parking in the rent or purchase price, even if we don’t know it. This makes developing buildings more expensive and the extra parking supply keeps paid parking prices low elsewhere, so we end up with surface lots, highways through cities, few new buildings and no need to develop efficient public transit. Google “Donald Shoup”, a UCLA professor who really delves into how this all breaks down!

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