A Parking Industry Legend Dies at 92


A Parking Industry Legend Dies at 92

Bill Smith


The parking industry has lost a giant from its formative years with the passing of Richard (Dick) C. Rich. One of the last remaining pioneers from the parking industry’s early days, Mr. Rich was an industry legend who was responsible for many of the innovations that we take for granted today. His history with polio as a young child provided a unique understanding of the importance of accessibility in parking, and he was one of the first parking designers to focus on handicap access.


Mr. Rich was born on January 3, 1931, and grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After overcoming polio as a child, he attended Marquette University, where he earned a degree in civil engineering. While a student at Marquette, he worked as an attendant at a local parking lot and began a lifelong career that saw him become a nationally recognized leader in the parking industry. 


Mr. Rich moved to Detroit in the early 1950s to work as a design engineer for National Garages, Inc., and in 1963, he started his own firm, Rich & Associates, Inc. He soon earned a reputation as an innovative parking designer and was responsible for many of the world’s first mega parking facilities, including a garage at O’Hare International Airport that was once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest single parking structure. 


Over his nearly 70-year career, Mr. Rich was involved in the planning and design of more than 3,500 parking structures across the United States and around the world with many of the world’s foremost architectural firms. His portfolio includes projects in China, the Middle East, Europe, South America, and Russia. His Detroit, Michigan-based firm was also responsible for the design of more than 120 parking structures throughout the state of Michigan, including more than 50 structures in the Detroit metropolitan area. 


In addition to Rich & Associates, Mr. Rich also formed MedPark Inc to develop, finance and manage parking for medical facilities. This gave him the opportunity to explore new concepts in design, lighting, and wayfinding that he then incorporated into his work on client projects. 


His experiences traveling for business sparked a lifelong love of travel. A devout Catholic, he traveled overseas to tour historic cathedrals and made pilgrimages to many holy sites. Mr. Rich was also a passionate photographer and an avid art collector.


Richard (Dick) C. Rich, 92, died on August 11, 2023, at his home in South Lyon, Michigan.


Bill Smith is the founder and president of Smith Phillips Strategic Communications. He can be reached at bsmith@smith-phillips.com.

October 2023

Article contributed by:
Bill Smith, Smith Phillips Strategic Communications
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