Let’s hope we haven’t got a pig in a poke as it concerns the new city parking garage that is nearing completion south of the expanded Lawrence Public Library in the 800 block between Vermont and Kentucky streets.
Right now, as efforts continue to get the facility ready for Saturday’s Kansas University football season opener, it has all the style of a roll-off trash cart, without the charm. It would rate as the least aesthetically pleasing of the parking garages scattered around town.
Best on the list would be the KU garage tucked into the hillside on the east side Mississippi Street. The top deck is at street level, and the brickwork on its facades ties it nicely to the adjacent Memorial Union building. It’s about as perfect a fit as anyone could want — although it’s expensive to use, and more attention could be paid to keeping the lights replaced inside.
Downtown, the garage on New Hampshire Street opposite the Lawrence Arts Center, also fits in — especially now that the southwest corner of Ninth and New Hampshire is occupied by a building of similar scale. The garage itself has fitting brickwork as well as street-level glass elements to help it look as if it belongs.
Back on campus, the low-profile garage north of Allen Fieldhouse does not overwhelm adjacent structures, and its finish matches some aspects of Green Hall to the northeast. It’s plain but it fits.
Even the Riverfront garage more resembles a parking lot than a garage as it presents itself to the traffic along New Hampshire Street. Some would quarrel with the entry tower and its signage, but still…
That brings us back to the library garage, with its garish reddish screens on three sides. The style and color clearly contrast with the Lawrence Senior Center and fire station to the south.
Perhaps it’s still in an unfinished mode, a work in progress, and touches yet to come, plus landscaping, will help it to fit, and soften, somehow, the impression it presents.
It would be too bad for a community that prides itself on art and has controls and specifications related to construction in its downtown area to wind up with a tacky, institutional parking facility created by the city itself.