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Solution of the Month

Park(ing) Garages

Hennebery Eddy Architects
October 2008

By David Sokol

“From my perspective LEED has been successful. It’s a wonderful catalyst the entire industry has been able to wrap itself around,” says Tim Eddy, AIA, LEED, founding principal of Oregon’s Hennebery Eddy Architects. Despite his admiration, Eddy has found some flaws in the system. Like the building types it encompasses.

Park(ing) Garages
Photo © Michael Mathers
Hennebery Eddy Architects’ underground parking structure for the First Presbyterian Church in Portland, Oregon.
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Consider a power traction substation, or a signal communications facility. Hennebery Eddy is designing these unoccupied structures for TriMet, the local transit agency, for a terminus of its light-rail line. The architects will wrap the buildings in an expansive photovoltaic screen, for example, and install 22 vertical-axis wind turbines in catenary poles. “It’s probably 10 times as green as anything else,” Eddy conjectures, but it’s outside LEED’s reach.

Another outsider project that exemplifies sustainability? Hennebery Eddy’s parking garage for the historic First Presbyterian Church in downtown Portland. Completed in 2007, the 170-spot structure burrows three levels below grade adjacent to the church, and its intensive green roof allows partial public access.

When church members purchased the neglected four-story building that sits where the garage is located today, they had envisioned planting a lawn on the roof. But the community didn’t have green design in mind originally. The structure was necessary for older congregants and families to participate in various church services, and the grass merely a placeholder for above-ground building expansion.

Eddy says the client began thinking greener, because his firm convinced the church that those features dovetail perfectly with its concern for “practical, thoughtful solutions that last long, are efficient, and don’t cost a lot to operate.” Materials are durable, ceilings painted white reflect light and reduce the number of fluorescent lamps installed by approximately 15 percent, a second-generation elevator saves energy, and ventilation turns on only when carbon monoxide sensors trip the switch.

The garden itself is designed to highlight the rose window that had been hidden by the four-story neighbor. Lawns, which the church daycare program uses, are framed by walking paths and boxwood, and furniture nestled into the garden’s sawtooth edge activates the public sidewalk. Hardscaping is graded so that stormwater drains toward planted spaces, although heavy precipitation travels to flow-through planters and stormwater vaults.

“Design the experience for the people who are going to be using it, and design the way it fits into the city,” Eddy says. “Then make the cars fit in the most efficient way you possibly can.”

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