EXTECH Façade Systems

Façade Considerations to Elevate a Parking Structure

Parking structures play a vital role in urban development. The exterior can offer an opportunity to elevate the overall aesthetic and improve functionality. Going beyond a place to park cars, parking structures can tell a powerful story by incorporating new technologies into the design.

Kinetic Facades

Kinetic facades, such as EXTECH’s KINETICWALL, respond to nature to visually express wind patterns. Each individual kinetic element moves simultaneously with the wind.

A KINETICWALL can be made up of hundreds or even thousands of individual kinetic elements, depending on the application and desired appearance. Prefabricated in unitized grids for simpler installation, each grid consists of a ladder and rung system with factory installed kinetic elements. Certain KINETICWALL types, such as pin-mount, can accommodate different shapes of kinetic elements for a unique appearance.  “Fish scale” kinetic elements were used for this aquarium façade.

Each kinetic element typically moves 90 degrees — forward and back — when activated by wind.  Single-point KINETICWALLS are attached by a single pin, allowing them to move both horizontally and vertically. The visual outcome is a sequin-like pattern.

Different materials can be used for kinetic elements, from the commonly used aluminum to acrylic and even stainless steel. The highly reflective appearance of a stainless steel KINETICWALL creates a different visual than other materials. Many finishes can be used for different environments and appearances, creating moving patterns or color-shift effects.

The KINETICWALL system is not only visually customizable but can be adjusted to fit different price points.  The size and spacing of flappers, desired kinetic material and finish, and type of kinetic system chosen can increase or decrease the overall system cost. 

KINETICWALL Dynamic Facade for Parking Structure Architecture
Multi-colored kinetic elements complete the pixelated appearance of this KINETICWALL.
A KINETICWALL for a parking structure in Miami picks up speed on a windy day.

Composite Wood & Special Finishes for Value-Engineered Façades

Composite wood facades can be installed to create natural spaces that mimic nature.  These custom extrusions are designed to replicate timber, bamboo, and other organic materials – while offering longevity and long-term performance. Different shapes, sizes, and spacing can be experimented with to create a completely unique façade.

A composite wood “timber screen” can modernize a parking structure, while the play of shadows and light can be observed as the sun moves across the façade. Organic elements, such as greenery, can be added to create a “living” wall.

As an alternative to terracotta baguette façades, EXTECH value-engineered a façade that mimics the appearance of terracotta with a specialty coating. The custom extrusions not only offered a better warranty and lifespan than terracotta, but also a lower cost.  

When a company desired the appearance of bamboo for their corporate parking structure, EXTECH provided a GEOLAM composite wood façade to support their goals.

Custom Geolam Facade
A custom Geolam façade mimics the appearance of bamboo to create a faux living wall.
This emulated terracotta façade has the appearance of terracotta baguettes at a more economical price point.

Polycarbonate Facades

Polycarbonate facades are a creative way to dress up a façade and draw attention to the building. Polycarbonate is the perfect canvas for backlighting, and LED options can be explored to transform a structure at night.

A polycarbonate façade can assist in wayfinding and enhance pedestrian safety by providing a beacon of light at night. They can be incorporated in many ways, and strategically positioned at different points to aid in light diffusion, leaving space for ventilation.

Additionally, polycarbonate facades offer UV-protection and are 100% recyclable at the end of their lifespan.

Parking Garage Architecture - Translucent Panels
A backlit polycarbonate façade for a transit center.
Waterloo Convention Center
A polycarbonate façade used as a backlit beacon.

Benefits of Parking Structure Facades

An elevated appearance may be first thought when considering a façade for a parking structure, but many other tangible benefits can be realized.

Solar Shading:

Different façade options can provide shading and UV protection for the comfort of commuters, depending on the orientation of the building and the fall of direct and indirect lighting during different times of the day. 

Prioritize Pedestrian Safety:

Above all, pedestrian safety is a top priority. Deterring falls can also be mitigated by installing a high-performance façade. Similarly, mesh is often installed to prevent climbing and vandalism.

Incorporate Art and Landscaping:

Using a parking façade as a public art form can improve the surrounding area’s outlook. For example, a children’s hospital installed a colorful, kinetic façade that can be seen from the hospital rooms, which has been said to have a calming effect on patients.

Connection to Nature & Sustainability:

Façades are an easy way to include natural elements and contribute to sustainability goals.

Creative Lighting Displays:

Creative lighting can enhance a façade through backlighting, up lighting, or wall wash lighting. Façades can be designed to include LEDs to transform the appearance of a structure at night.

Ensure Optimal Ventilation and Air Quality:

A “breathable” façade that takes advantage of natural ventilation is essential for parking structures. There are many ways to creatively design a parking façade while still offering this ventilation. Mesh, KINETICWALLS, vertical extrusions, and other unique cladding can transform a space while offering ventilation.

Adding a creative, high-performance façade to a parking structure has the potential to enhance the overall built environment while providing a practical solution to urban parking challenges. By including innovative design that prioritize user needs, architects can help create a functional, sustainable, and visually appealing structure that stands out within its surroundings.

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