Due to four consecutive years of record growth, Asheville Regional Airport’s (AVL) parking facilities were operating at capacity, testing the limits of its existing public and rental car parking surface lots. To address AVL’s parking needs, the Greater Asheville Regional Airport Authority elected to construct a new five-story, 1,300-space parking garage to replace approximately 400 surface parking spaces in their existing long-term lot. The new structure would also house the airport’s Rental Car Ready-Return operations, replacing 60 surface-lot spaces with 224 ground-level parking spaces. Gresham Smith was challenged with developing a distinctive yet cost-effective design solution for the new garage that would not only serve passengers efficiently, but also reflect western North Carolina’s natural beauty.
story parking garage
metal screen wall with striking supergraphic
Thinking Outside the Box
To support a more convenient passenger experience, the garage was set to be located directly in front of the terminal building. The client, however, was concerned that this meant a parking deck would now be responsible for the public’s first impression of the airport. To avoid the appearance of a utilitarian concrete structure, they sought an aesthetically appealing, eye-catching design solution that captured the public’s attention in a positive way while meeting the needs of passengers.
Showcasing the Region
During the initial stages of the project, we developed a number of conceptual design alternatives for the parking-deck cladding. The final design solution provides an artistic exterior facade featuring a 300-foot metal screen wall on both east and west elevations, custom-perforated to form a striking supergraphic that evokes the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. A motif portraying the local landscape was also utilized in a relief embossed on precast concrete spandrel panels, providing added detail and interest to portions of the structure not covered by the metal screen.
The approach was selected for its ability to offer a unique visual appeal when viewed up-close and from a distance. To achieve this, we created a customized software solution to generate complex perforation patterns based on photographic imagery. The decorative design component not only serves as an expressive, signature element for the airport, but the perforated metal skin, which is virtually maintenance free, also allows fresh air into the parking deck while offering protection from the elements inside the structure.
Prioritizing ease-of-use for passengers, the garage connects to the terminal building via a steel-framed canopy that provides covered pedestrian access to the centrally located ticketing lobby and baggage claim area. It also improves the rental car experience by offering passengers centralized and weather-protected rental car pick-up and drop-off.
What a Relief It Is
Along with providing 800 additional public parking spaces, the parking garage also reduces traffic and relieves congestion by keeping rental car returns within the parking structure and off the terminal curbside while creating a safer pedestrian experience for passengers walking between the garage and the terminal building. The relocated ground services also provide a safer waiting area for taxi, ride-share and shuttle drivers, as well as passengers utilizing those services.
A Landmark Design
Supporting projected growth to 2030, the new parking garage at AVL not only elevates the passenger experience but also creates a memorable first impression and landmark identity for both the airport and the region it serves.