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What would Seattle look like without any parking?

Parking in Seattle could become a thing of the past.
Flickr Photo/James Callan (CC BY NC SA 2.0)/
Parking in Seattle could become a thing of the past.

We know: It never feels like there are enough parking spots when you are driving around Seattle.

But there are more than you think. There are 500 million parking spaces in the U.S. – the same land area of Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

Andy Cohen, co-CEO of global design firm Gensler, sees a very near future where we won’t need any at all. His vision includes people ditching their own vehicles for driverless rideshares.

Cohen’s firm is working on large building projects and keeping this in mind. Today’s underground parking spaces may be tomorrow’s data centers or workout spaces. Gone are designs that feature sloped parking – flat garages are easier to renovate into office buildings.

Cohen is not seeing requests for buildings with no parking at all, but that’s not necessarily because of the owners. He said the biggest issue right now is legislative.

“All the zoning codes are still today requiring massive amounts of parking,” Cohen said. “We are literally having to prove to cities right now — and to counties and to states — that we don’t need to provide all this parking.”

Cohen said it’s just dawning right now that this change needs to occur. That makes for some excitement in designing for the future.

“It’s all about the people experience. Instead of designing for cars, with big driveways and entrance areas, now we can design the front door of the building for a beautiful entrance experience,” he said.

Another architectural change Cohen sees as the car becomes less ubiquitous: gas stations becoming public parks.

Produced for the web byKara McDermott.

Year started with KUOW: 1985 – 1986, 1991 – 2004, 2012