Green Square Parking Deck, Raleigh’s Free Observatory

Raleigh's downtown as seen from the parking lot's upper floor

photography by: Omri Westmark

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In a country where cars are almost always the default mean of transportation for the vast majority of people, parking occupies a significant portion of the urban space across many US cities. While the storage of private vehicles often entails the degradation of the surrounding streets, Raleigh’s Green Square Parking Deck offers a strikingly different experience, bestowed with stunning panoramic vistas and environmentally-friendly design.

The capital and second largest city in North Carolina, Raleigh is a major economic and cultural center, and as such, attracts a large number of commuters and visitors each day. As the city lacks any metro system, the traffic in and out of the downtown area is mostly vehicular. The incessant influx of cars is in turn translated to a hefty percentage of city center being allocated to parking.


In contrary to its uninspiring counterparts throughout Raleigh’s Downtown, the Green Square Parking Deck at the intersection of W Edenton and N McDowell streets is far more than simply a dull parking lot. Completed in 2011, the 9-story facility was built as part of a larger complex which also includes an office building as well as a nature museum, whereas its 25,300 square meters of parking space can accommodate about 900 vehicles.


Interestingly, alongside its utilitarian duties, the Green Square Parking Deck was meticulously designed as an interesting object, featuring a series of green architectural elements. Running along the bulk of the structure’s façade are dozens of slender vertical beams known as fins. Besides mitigating what would otherwise be an eyesore, the blades provide a protection from the occasional harsh weather conditions.


To make things even better, the parking lot makes a smart use of its environment by serving as a mini power plant and a water reservoir. A small solar farm atop its upper beams is connected directly to the local power grid, supplying more than 3,000 households with green electricity. Additionally, a large-scale cistern that sits vertically across the parking levels collects a substantial amount of rainwater that is used for irrigating state-owned tracts.


Whilst the building’s aforementioned virtues are definitely impressive, they are by no means what makes this parking facility a truly worthy place to visit, as its most appealing aspect is undoubtedly the spectacular and free of charge views of Raleigh’s skyline from the eighth floor, dominated by the Two Hannover Square and the Wells Fargo Capitol Center.