VALET PARKING DEBUTS IN THE U.S.
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
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.
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.
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.