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Friday, March 12,2010

Eye candy! Of the week

by Amanda Harrell-Seyburn
Property: Ramp No. 6, Michigan State University campus

Owner: MSU
Assessed: N/A


Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: Michigan State University’s Ramp No. 6 is an exemplary parking structure appropriately designed for its prominent location among the stately buildings of historic north campus. The parking structure is an elegant addition to East Lansing and a shining example of how a well designed parking structure can be visually appealing. To learn more from Amanda Harrell-Seyburn, see this story at www. LansingCityPulse.com


Built in 2008 with careful attention to detail and proportion, Ramp No. 6 features traditional massing and openings evocative of its 19th century neighbors. Functional yet appropriately scaled for its surroundings, it is an asset to the campus and downtown East Lansing's commercial district.


Nestled between the red brick Morrill Hall, Olin Health Center, and the Human Ecology Building, the multi-story brick ramp could be mistaken for any number of well-appointed buildings located in north campus. Take time for a walk on campus and enjoy this elegant building that challenges the parking structure status quo.


A lesson on parking structures by Amanda Harrell-Seyburn:

Parking structures are always preferable to acres of surface parking in the urban and suburban landscape. Although surface parking is less expensive than structured parking, the toll on the urban landscape is costly. Structured parking is an integral feature of a walkable community. Vast surface parking negatively impacts walkability because people are less inclined to walk several blocks past large open space (ie. surface parking) than blocks that have activity (shops, restaurants, etc.).

All too often parking structures are perceived as "ugly." Massive concrete utilitarian structures that are designed for function with little consideration to form and are rarely something that people are willing to live near. A well designed parking structure -  particularly those that at first glance do not resemble a parking structure - that is suited to its context (be that commercial, residential, or a mix) can be an asset to any community that requires  increased parking facilities.

East Lansing has done an excellent job of balancing structured and surface parking in its downtown corridor on Grand River Avenue. Both styles of parking are well integrated into the urban fabric with attractive mixed-use buildings that incorporate a combination of residential, commercial and parking. In addition, the surface parking is located off the primary streets and tucked behind commercial blocks.

The two most common errors that a community can make in regards to its parking are 1) limiting parking to surface parking and reducing valuable urban blocks to vast open space that negatively impacts the community aesthetically and practically. 2) allowing structured parking that is designed without consideration of the form of the surrounding buildings.


“Eye candy of the Week" is our weekly look at some of the nicer properties in Lansing. It rotates each with Eyesore of the Week. If you have a suggestion, please e-mail eye@lansingcitypulse.com or call Neal McNamara at 371-5600 ex. 17.

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