Art in Themed Parking


By John W. Hammerschlag

The Poetry Garage is a poetry-themed self-park located at 201 W. Madison on the corner of Madison and Wells in Chicago, IL. The facility opened in 1997. In May 2002, Hammerschlag & Co. purchased the garage in partnership with Syndicated Equities and oversaw a $1,000,000 capital improvements program to convert the asset into a fully automated self-park. The property was rebranded The Poetry Garage in 2011 and over the past decade has enjoyed advancements, such as an upgraded PARCs system with LPR (license plate recognition), new LED lighting, and other technology improvements tailored to accommodate online aggregators and online transaction reporting efficiency. The most recent enhancement for the facility is the addition of dynamic rate signs, which allow the operator, SP+, to change rates instantly, maximizing transient parking revenues.

Brand identity for the garage was developed by Weingart Associates. Each floor pays tribute to an American poet, with a sample of each poet’s work displayed in the elevator lobbies and colorful portraits displayed throughout each level as floor reminders. The facility is the preferred parking garage for the Lyric Opera House, located within a block.

Parking systems aren’t the only application for cutting-edge technology. Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot applications are popping up everywhere, and some allow anyone to try their hand at writing without agonizing over each line. With a little prompting, users can create AI-generated poetry about anything they can dream of. As an ode to The Poetry Garage, SP Plus’s Facility Manager created an AI-generated poem about parking.

John Hammerschlag is President of Hammerschlag & Co., Inc. and is a member of IPMI’s Planning, Design, and Construction Committee. He can be reached at