March 9, 2010 Frank Lloyd Wright

Mid-Century Modern Parking

The slat-enclosed raised parking area in the Bender Building.

The boom in post-World War II car production in the United States created a unique design challenge. Where are all those cars going to go when people were not driving them? The National Building Museum is currently hosting the first major exhibition of parking garage design. “House of Cars: Innovation and the Parking Garage” details the history of the form, with a major emphasis on the growth in construction during the mid-century period. The exhibit includes the designs of modern masters such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen and Bertrand Goldberg, who studied with Mies van der Rohe at the Bauhaus, before designing Marina City in Chicago.

The photos here are of a mid-century parking solution here in D.C. The Bender Building, built in 1959 and designed by the team of Julian Berla and Joseph Abel, features an above-ground parking lot right under the office space. At the time, the building, which faces three streets–Connecticut, 18th and L–was the largest and most modern in the city.

Parking entrance on 18th Street.

Cool concrete cut outs along parking area on L Street.