Parking Lots Collapses – Now What? Plus some musings…

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Parking Lots Collapses – Now What? Plus some musings…

Ok, a heavy concrete structure fell off a building and hit the top of a parking garage and it collapsed. Yes, stuff happens. But before we just to conclusions and stop parking in garages, consider that most garages are designed to withstand a couple of tons of concrete dropping from great height onto them. My sources tell me that we will have to wait a few months for the engineer’s report before we know exactly what the cause of the collapse was, and speculation is useless. We should be thankful that no one was in the garage at the time and that the sniffer pooches came up empty.

I think about garages and a few random thoughts come to mind:

  • Many garage designs are bridges turned back on themselves.
  • The weight of people, furniture, walls, and infrastructure in buildings is more per square foot than the weight of cars psf in a garage.
  • Garages have structural problems and need more maintenance than buildings because they have no walls and it’s the elements that blow in or are carried in by the cars that cause problems.
  • For those of you who live in southern climes, many garages in the snow belt actually are heated.
  • Garages need to be open so that exhaust fumes are expelled. Or they have to have large circulation fans to ensure people can breathe in them.
  • If you stand in the lane and help people with their access cards or inserting their tickets in ticket acceptors you will greatly increase the amount of time it takes to clear the garage.
  • Most people would prefer to pay at a POF than pay on exit, although it would seem that pay on exit provides more service.
  • Most women (and many men) would prefer to park on a surface lot than in a garage (the feel more secure.)
  • Double Helix garages (I call them DNA garages) can be very confusing – you can park on floor four, for instance, and return and go to floor four and not be able to find your car. They work find for monthly garages where drivers can be trained on how to find their cars, but for visitors, they are the worst.
  • I like garages with speed ramps – IE corkscrews outside the garage with exits on each floor. Once you are in the speed ramp you can go all the way to the ground and exit. In garages that are a continuous ramp, there is always someone waiting for someone else blocking the lane and you are stuck.
  • If you saw cut a floor in a garage and it’s a “post tension” garage – that’s one that’s poured over high stress cables – and you “nick” a cable, the thing can snap and “curl” up with such force that it can cut through a car. However if the cable is covered in hose like plastic, it won’t.
  • Engineers can find “spalling” – that is rusting rebar – in garages by dragging chains over the concrete and listening for the differences in the resulting sound. They do this at night when the garage is empty, resulting in rumors of garage haunting.
  • Putting salt on the entry way to garages may help with ice, but it also causes problems with the above spalling. Garages need to be washed down after storms.
  • That’s enough.
John Van Horn

John Van Horn

4 Responses

  1. BELOW ARE TWO OBSERVATIONS ON YOUR MUSINGS!!
    Double Helix garages (I call them DNA garages) can be very confusing – you can park on floor four, for instance, and return and go to floor four and not be able to find your car. They work find for monthly garages where drivers can be trained on how to find their cars, but for visitors, they are the worst. THEY ARE NOT THE WORST; THEY ARE THE BEST. YOU CAN BUILD THEM TWICE AS HIGH AND ACCOMODATE TWICE AS MANY PARKERS. RATHER A VISITOR HAVE A PLACE TO PARK THAN NO PLACE TO PARK. ALSO, IF YOU USE THE SAME ELEVATOR BANK YOU USED TO DEPART FROM THE GARAGE WHEN RETURNING TO THE GARAGE, YOU SHOULD HAVE LITTLE TROUBLE IN FINDING YOUR CAR UPON RETURNING.
    If you saw cut a floor in a garage and it’s a “post tension” garage – that’s one that’s poured over high stress cables – and you “nick” a cable, the thing can snap and “curl” up with such force that it can cut through a car. However if the cable is covered in hose like plastic, it won’t. EVEN IF THE CABLE IS COVERED WITH PLASTIC, THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE THAT ONE IF NOT BOTH OF THE CONCRETE PLUGS COVERING THE END(S) OF THE CABLE WILL BE RELEASED WITH SUCH FORCE (LIKE A BULLET) SO AS TO BREAK A WINDOW IN A BUILDING 200 FEET AWAY!!

  2. Sorry John, I don’t buy it. I could understand if the garage was used by the same people every day so they could get used to it, however as a daily garage, these facilities are not on. Perhaps you should provide parkers with little “cheat sheets” with instructions like “use the same elevator” to assist them in finding their cars.
    By the way — YOU DON”T HAVE TO YELL — I’m right here.

  3. Double helix garages are not a good design for most short term parking applications. One of the biggest issues (other than the confusion factor) is that virtually all of the parking is on a slope. While this is not a big deal for a lot of people, it is if your dealing with packages, children, strollers, grocery carts, luggage, etc.
    From experience I can attest that there is also a much higher rate of “door dings” in a double helix than in a garage with a flat surface when the majority of parkers are short term (special events, etc). People that aren’t used to parking on the slope open their doors just like they do at the supermarket and unless they have a good gip on the handle it tends to swing out all the way.
    That being said, the double helix is an excellent design for monthly parking and is much more efficient than other designs from a land use perspective.
    It’s all about having the right tool for the job.

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