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Shifting paradigms with parking structure designs

Opportunities for finished architectural aluminum products

Facade of parking garage in Mountain View, California
A parking garage facade for a global technology company in Mountain View, California. Photos courtesy of Extech and Linetec.

Parking garages greet us when arriving at practically every modern commercial, educational and municipal building. If a building owner wants to create a positive experience upon approach, finished architectural aluminum products can shift the paradigm from the utilitarian stacked concrete structure to an attractive destination that provides a memorable impression.

Parking garages are a growing construction segment

The National Parking Association’s 2020 report found the U.S. parking industry is a $131 billion industry employing 581,000 workers. In 2023, the association’s research indicated parking operators projected up to 15% growth, with the highest market gains in Atlanta, Miami and New York City. Airport and events parking continue to generate the fastest revenue growth.

In 2020, U.S. cumulative vehicle mileage was at its lowest in 19 years as reported by the U.S. Department of Transportation. As of July 2023, annual miles traveled was nearing 2019’s totals. Regardless of whether you drive yourself or carpool, vehicles need to park.

Garage facades can include flapperwall, and even murals

Enhancing modern parking facility designs, finished architectural aluminum products are selected for wall panel and façade systems, storefront and curtain wall framing, doors and entrances, wind screens and sun shades, skybridges and more.

Wind-driven flapperwall façade systems creatively conceal parking facility designs. When the metal flapper panels are finished in durable anodize or colorful architectural coatings, they add visual interest to both the building and the surrounding community. Increasingly, these colorful, dynamic exterior cladding solutions are appearing in cities across the U.S.

A highly visible parking garage at Boston Logan International Airport features a flapperwall consisting of more than 48,000 anodized aluminum panels. Chicago’s GR333N 18-story building showcases a wind-driven flapperwall covering the lower parking levels topped by curtain wall for the upper office and retail floors.

Most recently, a well-known global technology company in Mountain View, California, opened a four-level, 520,000-square-foot parking garage clad with a the massive, colorful, moving mural. More than 111,000 individual metal flappers were finished in 35 different colors to compose the wind-activated flapperwall system. When air passes through the building façade system, thousands of painted “pixels” within the illustrated landscape move in response.

How to choose the right finish for parking structures

Parking garage exterior
Exterior of the parking garage at Boston Logan International Airport. Photo by William Horne, courtsey of Extech.

Choosing high-performance finishes contribute to a property’s value by offering a low-maintenance approach to ensuring the right appearance. Painted finishes that meet AAMA 2605 and Class I anodize finishes are ideal for parking structures’ exterior architectural aluminum products.

Architectural coatings can be specified in nearly any imaginable hue, including sparkling micas and metallics. For precise brand colors, your finishing service provider’s custom matching and blending services can provide the correct look.

Anodize finishes have a more limited color palette, but also deliver exceptional performance and durability. Light tones of Class I anodize – clear, champagne and light bronze – provide a modern, metallic feel. Dark anodize tones – black, extra dark bronze and dark bronze – can add contrast when paired with neutral shades or blend with traditional brick and masonry.

With the majority of Americans arriving by car to our workplaces, schools, shopping and entertainment destinations, parking facilities represent an opportunity to attract and welcome people.


Tammy Schroeder

Tammy Schroeder

Tammy Schroeder, LEED Green Associate, is the director of marketing for Linetec, Tubelite and Alumicor brands. With more than 20 years of experience in the finishing industry, she serves as an industry educator on high-quality, high-performance architectural products, finishing and services. She can be reached at