If you’re fortunate enough to have some free time this summer and need a good book to read that doesn’t stray too far from the architecture/ARE world, you might seriously consider picking up a copy of Rethinking A Lot by Eran Ben-Joseph. It’s a quick, easy, and enjoyable read on the history and potential of parking lots in our built environment. How can we re-purpose those that exist? How might we design new lots that are more than ugly, impervious car storage locations? From food cart pods to after-hour playgrounds and solar panels to beefed up vegetation, the options appear to be endless. Ben-Joseph argues that it’s time to rethink the first (and last) space we encounter when visiting a location…a huge but necessary undertaking. He also gets Big Yellow Taxi stuck in your head almost instantly, but I won’t hold that against him.
I wouldn’t recommend it as a must-read for the SPD exam, although it does address how parking spaces, sizes, and costs are typically determined. That being said, you might appreciate the thoughts presented more if you’ve studied the site planning and design material. The text gets you to think about a majorly neglected programmatic element and surprisingly pumped to propose changes. (INSTALL SOLAR PANELS OVER ALL THE SPACES!!) The fact that parking lot design has basically been left untouched for 50+ years is mind boggling, at least to yours truly.
Add it to your reading list if you get a chance. Like any good design book, there’s lots of pictures.