Tag Archives: parking experience

GARAGE CASE STUDY: An Automated Solution to Parking Perils

By Christian Hermansen

PARKING IS A NECESSARY EVIL IN THE PUBLIC’S MIND. It’s something we all do be­fore going shopping, hanging out with friends, or catching a game. It’s the experi­ence before the experience.

As someone who has recently joined the parking-sphere, I see parking as something where you either have a neutral experience or a below-­average one. Con­sumers rarely perceive a top-notch parking experience.

This lines up with the feedback I hear from friends, family, and members of the general public. People forget the times where everything worked perfectly but re­member the bad experi­ences when it all went wrong. Circling for ages and not being able to find a space, getting confused by not knowing where to drive, and the resulting congestion are all reasons for a negative parking experience.

Parking is also (normally) the first impression a customer gets of the place he or she has just arrived. Everyone knows how important the first impression is in any interaction! It sets the tone for the expe­rience. Making it easy, stress-free, and frictionless means your customer is content when he or she walks in the door ready to engage with your offering rather than lamenting over the bad experience in your park­ing lot.

Many large providers and operators of parking, particularly shopping centers, airports, and cities, are acknowledging this and are taking steps to ensure the best neutral (or even net positive) experience possible for users of their parking. If only there was some way of automatically displaying occupancy and guiding people to available parking spaces.

Circling for ages and not being able to find a space, getting confused by not knowing where to drive, and the resulting congestion are all reasons for a negative parking experience.

Case Study: Irvine Spectrum Center

The Irvine Company has worked for five years to make parking easier for visitors to the massive Southern California shopping center the Irvine Spectrum Cen­ter. It started with the outdoor parking area and then moved to the indoor spaces, with a number of custom requirements catered for along the way.

When the company sought to install another in­door solution at the new Block 800 parking garage on the south side of the site, it took into consideration lessons learned from its established Irvine Center parking areas. Being a new garage, a key component of this project was to keep that minimal, slick, and premium look and feel with the parking guidance installation.

Since implementing the initial parking guidance project at the Irvine Spectrum Center, a new method of detecting vehicles, using an eye-safe, class-one laser sensor mounted in the middle of the driving aisle instead of an older, Bluetooth sensor, had been developed. Users say it offers detection ac­curacy but also greater reliability from eliminating batteries, having no hardware on the often harsh road surface, and a lower cost of install.
But with a new sensor in the equation, the integration done in the past with the site’s existing strip-lighting and LED guidance lights needed a redesign to incorporate new components.

With a large, internal team of product and hardware engi­neers, along with a dose of can-do attitude, the vendor was able to produce a new fixture to seamlessly attach to the end of lighting enclosures.

There are some other significant benefits to integrating parking guidance technology with existing lighting infra­structure. For example, integrating with the existing infra­structure at the parking lot meant an extremely low-impact installation. Installers were able to use an existing power supply and wire power into the same power supply as the lights, reducing costly cabling or the need for specialized power points.

Anecdotal evidence on the ground suggests the parking guidance is working. Speaking to parking users on a recent site visit, I was told they thought the garage looked smart, new, premium, and clean. Users also told us they enjoyed the easy journey and fast parking and compared the experience they’d just had with an experience in a garage without parking guidance. Customers often cited those “red and green lights and the signs” as the reason for that.

An easier parking experience gets you off on the right foot with your customers. Reduce the time to park, re­duce congestion, reduce circulation time and increase your customer’s experience.

Read the article here.

CHRISTIAN HERMANSEN is brand manager with Frogparking. He can be reached at christian@frogparking.com.


Mobility & Tech: Creating A-List Parking in Urban Settings

By Taylor Kim, AIA, LEED AP

PARKING IS OFTEN THE FIRST AND LAST IMPRESSION a patron has when visiting a destination. In parking-challenged urban centers such as San Francisco, Calif, where parking isn’t expected to be easy, providing an A-list parking experience can add tremendous value. By integrating mobile app technology, seamless valet services, and mechanical parking for increased flexi­bility, parking can become an amenity rather than an inconvenient necessity.

At Lumina Towers, a luxury resi­dential development in the Rincon Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, each of these technologies was used to not only improve the residential experience, but also provide a cost-effective way to offer sufficient parking within a limited footprint. Lumina consists of four high-rise towers that take up an entire city block. While this site is larger than most, it was still a challenge to accommodate the number of parking spaces needed to serve its 655 units. Given the amount of parking needed and the high level of service desired to serve Lumina’s cli­entele, it was determined that full valet parking, rather than self-parking, was the right approach.

The Specs

Parking for the development is supplied on three basement levels. The first basement consists of the valet drop-off and pick-up areas and accessible parking, as well as pedestrian connec­tions to each of the four towers. The second and third basement levels are only accessible to valet attendants. To densify the parking to meet the project’s program, the third basement level also incorporates mechanical stackers that use volume to make more efficient use of available space.

Valet-operated mechanical parking allows for more flexible operations and increased parking capacity with minimal increases to the volume of the garage. Because the prime location means many residents don’t regularly use their vehi­cles, valets are able to manage demand by leveraging stackers and remote spac­es in the garage for long-term storage. Experienced valets also make it possible to use a complicated parking layout with a delicate one-way traffic pattern and parking at various angles, resulting in extremely efficient operations.

By integrating mobile app technology, seamless valet services, and mechanical parking for increased flexibility, parking can become an amenity rather than an inconvenient necessity.

Why Valet Makes Sense

Valet is often thought of as an expensive, slow, labor-intensive operation. However, with the use of technology, many of the disadvantages of valet parking have been minimized at Lumina Towers. Instead of a traditional valet operation where drivers request their vehicle once they reach the valet station in the parking garage, resi­dents at Lumina text or call the valet desk for their cars before leaving their units. The valet then queries the central system at the main valet office, where attendants can locate and retrieve the vehicle. By the time the resident reaches the garage, their car is staged and ready.

The garage drop-off was carefully de­signed with the driver in mind. There is adequate queuing space for residents to be able to leave their cars on arrival and proceed to their building during heavi­er peak periods. Attendants are also able to prepare for the morning peak demands during the slower overnight hours by staging the regular vehicles for pick up on the B1 level. Having a regular dedicated valet staff onsite also forges a personal connection, increasing the level of service to the residents.

In one of the densest, busiest cities in the country, Lumina Towers not only overcame the innate challenges posed by parking, but also turned the parking experience into a luxury amenity that provides residents with a seamless, high-level experience.

Read the article here.

TAYLOR KIM, AIA, LEED AP, is project manager and associate with Watry Design. She can be reached at tkim@watrydesign.com.