International Parking & Mobility Institute

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Board Perspective

Parking Planning, Design, & Construction

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Why They Matter

When asked to co-chair the IPMI Planning, Design, & Construction (PDC) Committee, the first questions that came to mind were, “What does the PDC do? And will people understand why it exists?”

As I always say, you don’t know what you don’t know. It has been quite an education, as participation with every committee should be. I believe we’ve opened a few IPMI members’ eyes to why the PDC is critical to both the parking industry as a whole and to IPMI specifically. To understand the impacts of how the three activities (planning, design, and construction) influence parking, it’s best to discuss each segment individually. I’d like to use the peanut butter and jelly sandwich analogy. Peanut butter is good but a little dry sometimes. Jelly is pure sweetness—maybe a little too sweet to eat as a stand-alone. Bread is a great staple, but there’s truth in the old biblical saying that man cannot live by bread alone.

Now, put all three together, and you will have the formula for school lunch boxes all over the nation.

PB&J is still my go-to meal when the Mrs. is out of town and I’m making myself a lazy meal. Those three items combined are one tough-to-beat trio!! The same goes for planning, design, and construction.

Let’s take a high-level look at the components of the PDC Committee.

Planning

Whether you’re building a new parking structure, performing structure restoration, developing a parking and curbside plan for a region, determining how to fund an EV-ready facility retrofit, or creating a multi-use garage facility that will accommodate driverless cars—the difference between success and failure is the effort you put into the planning process. That means obtaining expertise from all facets of the effort from electricians, structural engineers, planners, city engineers, utility companies, parking enforcement, stakeholder groups, and more. More effort put into the planning will equate to less time wasted, fewer cost overruns, smoother project completion, and happier customers.

Design

After the planning is completed, a design must be created to meet the planning process’s ideals. At the same time, it must be constructed while containing costs and maintaining safety, equity, and sustainability considerations. In addition, there must be an eye to the future for upgrades and modifications as technologies and building materials evolve over the 50-to-75-year lifespan of the new facility. The design may have to consider issues like the impacts of the emerging aerial vehicle technology that will take off and land from garage rooftops, and the infrastructure needs of a safe environment that will experience pedestrians and driverless vehicles. Accessibility for those who are sight, hearing, mobility, or otherwise impaired must be incorporated into any good design. New considerations continue to evolve; for example, as an industry, we are learning more broadly about the needs of customers with autism and limited mental capabilities. The designers must take the requirements provided by the planners and incorporate the needs of the many customers that will utilize the parking facilities. Those “customers” also include parking enforcement and street cleaners!

Construction

The construction teams must take the designs based on planner input and convert construction drawings into real, three-dimensional facilities. Construction no longer consists of just placing concrete and steel. Today, construction includes procuring and deploying the latest technologies. That can include lighting, fire suppression, smart elevators, emergency communications, RFID (communications tags) infrastructure, parking access and revenue control systems (PARCS), security systems (strategic surveillance), anti-suicide precautions, durable painting schemes, ventilation systems, minimal maintenance drainage systems, etc. Of course, this also includes ensuring electric vehicle readiness (EV Capable, EV Ready, EV Installed).

Planning, Design & Construction

These three activities are much like that peanut butter and jelly sandwich—not a meal when each component is taken separately. The truth is that a good planning effort isn’t enough if there is no design activity to put those thoughts to paper and visually provide a step-by-step process. And then, even with thorough planning and competent design documents, our project is doomed if we do not have a construction process that can build according to plans and, if possible, provide some value-added service to what has been planned and designed.

The world is filled with stories where the construction crews decided that it would be easier and cheaper to install 2” conduits instead of 4” conduits, not realizing that they were oversized for future use—where 2” would be too small. I have experienced what happens when the planning, design, and construction services are not aligned; on one project, constructors decided that some details were overkill. They received approval from the owner (not the designer) to adjust the design, which would be less expensive. Unfortunately, the in-the-field design changes resulted in time-consuming and very expensive modifications when it was discovered that the initial design allowed for highly innovative and advanced technologies to be deployed in the next construction phase. That setting of the stage for the next phase was value-engineered out without proper consideration of all factors, and the contractor’s decision to make the design ‘better’ actually cost time and money.

The IPMI Planning, Design, & Construction trio is critical to every aspect of a parking facility, whether it is a garage, a surface lot, or on-street services. PDC is not a stand-alone operation or a niche committee.

PDC is critical for technology.

PDC is critical for sustainability.

PDC is critical for mobility.

PDC is critical for maintainability.

PDC is critical for equity and inclusion.

When I was asked to co-chair the IPMI Planning, Design, & Construction committee, I had no idea that I was stepping into the heart of the parking profession. As a former member of the IPMI Mobility Task Force, former chair of the IPMI Technology Committee, former co-chair of the IPMI ITS and Parking Task Force, and former member of the IPMI Electronic Payment Systems Committee—I’d have to say that my time as the co-chair of the IPMI Planning, Design, & Construction committee has been the period that has provided me with the most holistic view of our parking industry.

Topics within the PDC’s purview range from concrete admixtures to accessibility parking regulation input, from EV accommodation to flying car garage deck platforms, and a lot in between. Readers of this article would be wise to take notice of the PDC and then figure out how to get involved. This is NOT your grandfather’s committee.

After writing this…I think I’ll go and make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a tall glass of cold milk! ◆

President | 

Richard Easley, CAPP, is president of E-Squared Engineering. He is a member of IPMI’s Board of Directors and Co-Chair of the Planning, Design, and Construction Committee.

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