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06. November 2014

Creative car park design

With more than 1,000 doctors and another 7,000 additional employees in patient care, service and administration, the Hartford Hospital in Connecticut, USA, is one of the most important hospitals in the region. In addition to medical care, the clinic also satisfies the very highest demands when it comes to the associated infrastructure. The Hartford Hospital therefore had a very special kind of multi-storey car park built directly next to the hospital campus to provide parking spaces for its employees. In spite of its size, the nine-storey building blends harmoniously into the surrounding area with its finely-structured, vibrant façade and therefore acts as its contemporary counterpart. The outstanding feature of the multi-layered façade design is the 2,500 square metres of stainless steel mesh supplied by GKD – GEBR. KUFFERATH AG from Düren.

The design concept of the architects Perkins+Will and DESMAN is intentionally different from the purely functional structures of conventional car parks. With unusual material combinations and a staggered façade design they created a modern, characteristic building with impressive functionality and safety. The outer shell of the individual car park levels comprises white panels made of pre-cast concrete. Terracotta panels echo the colour and structure of the neighbouring brick buildings. A special highlight of the façade are the partly double-layered 126 panels made of GKD stainless steel mesh – 104 of which are of the Lago mesh type – that clad large areas of different sides of the building. On the entrance side of the block, eleven panels made of Lago mesh that span over the top five storeys to the centre of the building form the basis of a stylised first aid cross. A second layer comprising 17 panels of the Tigris mesh type form an extended horizontal bar of this first aid cross over the three middle storeys. The mesh type continues on the adjacent left-hand building side in five full-height panels that also bear the colourful logo of the Hartford Hospital. The layered units of metal mesh sections additionally emphasise the fine structure of the façade and lend it a three-dimensional depth. When exposed to direct sunlight, fascinating moiré effects are created by the light reflecting on the double mesh structure.

The architects selected GKD stainless steel mesh due to its unusual visual qualities and comprehensive range of functions; it provides protection against the sun, rain and draughts and also serves as reliable fall guard protection. Its transparency permits unimpeded visual contact of the car park visitors to the building’s surroundings, thereby enhancing the feeling of safety. The high degree of light transmission offered by the mesh material also means that no additional electric lighting is required during daylight hours. The maximum use of daylight and protection against the sun mean considerable energy savings. The natural ventilation of the car park as well as its ease of maintenance and low maintenance requirements ensure sustainable operation of the facility. At the end of its service life the mesh can also be fully recycled without any loss of quality.

With its literally multi-layered structure the car park with its mesh façade stands for transport infrastructure architecture that is harmoniously integrated into existing structures and that also reflects the guiding principles of the clinic – excellence, safety, care and integrity – in an architectural sense.

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