Super Parking Nerd From Philly Hits the Big Time

Rachel Yoka's mission to better the plebeian parking lot has gone national.

The Lift at Juniper Street

The Lift at Juniper Street

The International Parking Institute’s Rachel Yoka, originally from the Philly area, gets a sprawling 2,000-word feature from CityLab as part of its Future of Transportation series. The piece starts with her driving her Nissan Rogue into The Lift on Juniper, the green parking lot that takes your car on an automated elevator ride to secure parking. Yoka sings the Lift’s praises to CityLab writer Amy Crawford:

“You don’t need ventilation, you don’t need lighting,” she says. “You have space savings in terms of floor-to-floor ratio.” Because there’s no need for ramps or aisles, The Lift can accommodate twice as many cars as a traditional garage of the same size, and the cars are lifted into position with their engines off, cutting down on emissions.

She also takes Crawford to Temple to look at a garage there.

Nearly a third of Temple’s students, faculty, and staff commute by car (as drivers and passengers), so there’s a desperate need for parking on campus, she says. The four-story structure is a definite improvement over the surface lot that was here before. It packs more cars into a smaller area, but it also boasts high-efficiency lighting programmed to go off when daylight alone is sufficient, landscaping that conserves water, and preferred parking for electric vehicles.

Finally, she takes her to 30th Street Station and then to University City, with Crawford noting an overall shift in the approach to the conception of garage construction:

We pass traditional garages with boxy tiers of bare concrete, the kind that present an unwelcoming façade to drivers and pedestrians alike. That’s something developers are moving away from, says Yoka. In fact, urban garages are increasingly likely to include ground floor retail and attractive architectural flourishes. We stop at one with a fancy metal skin wrapped around the upper levels and full-size Fresh Grocer on the ground floor, complete with a sidewalk café where a few people sit drinking coffee. The market, says Yoka, was sorely needed when the garage went up in 2000. “It literally changed the character of the neighborhood.”

One Woman’s Quest to Design Parking Lots People Don’t Hate [CityLab]