Better parking lot design: Is it enough?
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Rethinking A Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking, by Eran Ben-Joseph, MIT Press, 2012, 157 pages, $24.95
With parking now consuming as much as 30 percent of precious urban land in some American cities, it’s no wonder that parking has become one of the leading hot-button issues in planning and urban design. Rethinking A Lot enters the parking fray with MIT Professor Eran Ben-Joseph tackling the issue of ubiquitous and banal surface parking lots. Ben-Joseph believes that these lots are ripe for design interventions with the potential to make parking lots a significant civic element like plazas and parks. Parking lots are, Ben-Joseph argues, the most commonly used public places — the site for chance meetings where we step out of climate controlled environments and arrive when visiting most destinations — yet most people think very little about these places.
Rethinking A Lot tackles the parking issue in three sections: first, a review of the various issues effecting parking provision; next, a brief, well-illustrated, history of surface parking in the US; and finally, examples of exemplary parking lots. Ben-Joseph was inspired to tackle this issue after questions from students wanting to know if there were examples of “great” parking lots.