820 N. Wolcott Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622


It is only fitting that the U.S. debut of the newest technology in parking structures should occur in the backyard of the National Parking Association in Washington, D.C.  On July 5, 2002, the 74-car automated mechanical parking structure at the Summit Grand Parc Apartments was completed and is ready for turn over to the owner, Summit Properties.  The project is located at 900 15th Street NW, just 3 blocks from NPA offices (see Figure 1).  The project consists of a luxury residential tower with 98 rental units and 24,000 sf of commercial/retail space in the adjacent five-story historic building.  The parking structure is provided under the residential tower in a footprint of 60ft by 106ft on four levels within a total depth of 32 at a cost of approximately $1.5 million or approximately $20,000 per stall. 

Automated, mechanical parking systems utilize computer-controlled, robotic transport devices with vertical and horizontal movement capability to transport vehicles from the street level to a storage compartment and back without human intervention.  A single driveway provides access into the building at street level.  Inside the building, there are two entry/exit compartments oriented at 45 degrees on the left side of the drive aisle (see Figure 1).  The patron drives forward onto a steel pallet that is flush with the floor inside the entry compartment.  Depressed channels are provided on each side of the pallet for guiding the wheels of the vehicle into proper position on the pallet.  Once the patron retrieves all their belongings, and all passengers and pets vacate the transfer cabin, the patron activates the system by presenting an electronically-encoded card at the card reader positioned outside and adjacent to the entry compartment.  The entry compartment door closes automatically, sensors measure the size of the vehicle to determine that it will fit in the storage compartment, and determine that all persons have vacated the transfer compartment. The floor drops down one level where the vehicle is transferred to a robotic transport device that operates in a four-level high vault. This device moves horizontally on guide rails at the lowest parking level while also having vertical lift capability to access the vehicle storage racks inside the garage (see Figure   ).  The computer system determines where to store the vehicle, and stores that information with the identification information recorded by the card reader.  To retrieve their vehicle, the patron presents their electronic card at the card reader, the vehicle is automatically retrieved and delivered to the entry/exit compartment at street level.  A turntable in the transfer compartment turns the vehicle so it is facing forward for exiting the building.  This parking system then most closely compares to automated valet parking. 

The parking structure is also unique in that many traditional elements of self-park, ramp-access garages are avoided or greatly minimized.  Since the underground parking storage area is not occupied, there are no fire exit stairs required for occupants.  Only ladders and catwalks are provided for access by maintenance personnel and the fire department.  Similarly, no elevators are provided in the parking storage area.  Only minimal lighting is required for maintenance personnel.  Since the vehicles are carried on steel pallets, there are no floors in the storage compartments.  The pallets are supported on an open steel structural frame.  Because the vehicles are transported with the engines off, there is no special ventilation requirement for vehicle emissions.  Safety and security is also greatly enhanced as the vehicle storage area is not accessible to the public. 

The parking equipment installation was performed by Mid-American Elevator Company. The mechanical parking system is manufactured by Wohr of Stuttgart, Germany, which is represented in the U.S. by SpaceSaver Parking Company of Chicago.  Tours of this facility are available by contacting Jackie Smith at SpaceSaver Parking Company, 773-486-6900.


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