Harry Wolf

Harry Wolf

Porto, Portugal


California Disneyland Parking Structure

Faced with the need to respond to the demand for added guest parking, this project presented the challenge of taking this world’s largest parking structure and turning it into an object of pride for the Disney and the City of Anaheim and to continue Disney’s tradition of outstanding architecture vs. simply utilitarian facilities. 

When most people think of very large, horizontal buildings, they think of factories or sheds or of structures like the Pentagon.  These are an anathema because their facades say little about what goes on inside, just miles and miles of sameness. The first task then is to give voice to the intelligence of this building, to make it explicable, both in function and in construction.  Then, to render its parts in well proportioned major elements, with the minor elements - those places where people come in contact with the building - executed with a thoughtful and appropriate crafting.

Each side of the building has its own identity, reflecting the operations within and the conditions without.

On the West this intensely landscaped side is stepped so that its height is less prominent to the street and the residents across. The surface is scaled by modulation of alternating recesses, reflecting the internal structure. The steps are capped with planters and the surface, solid to stop noise, is of precast concrete panels, subtly imprinted with the marks of its forms. These form lines are ordered, as elsewhere in a series of squares and golden section rectangles. Behind and at the sides of the recesses are translucent glass sheets, stopping sound and passing light. Vertically the recesses are like chimneys inducing airflow to refresh  the interior.

Just to the West side of each stair is a supporting wall which, in mornings, will bear the sun painted stair outline and in afternoon cast deep shadow, articulating this subdivision of the building’s length.

On the North side are three access ramps, stacked compactly one under the other, efficiently serving the six floors, two at a time. The long ramp slopes and their requisite structure reflect the rhythm of the shear walls of the north face. For one-half the length of this side of the building, sound abatement louvers, which would normally be of metal, are instead great sheets of translucent glass set like giant upside down louvers bouncing the sound to the sky and admitting daylight into the building. At night, they serve to diffuse the light from within the building and, as they reflect headlights, they give a sense of activity within. The exit stairs here, in counterpoint to the south side and in response to the space required for the ramps, are recessed into the face of the building. In this way they mark the segments of the building’s length, but respect the requirements of the ramp component.

The East side of the building is the zone exclusively for pedestrians. Everything about this part of the building is distinctive, from its open cantilevered structure, to its enfilade of closely spaced columns demarking the passage from the automobile zone to the pedestrian zone within the garage.  The guests see this colonnade, painted a glistening white, interspersed with glowing light bollards, as a clearly different area. The floor, plaques of brilliantly colored tiles in a neutral terrazzo surround, are series of giant flowers, appropriate to this garden district of Disneyland, each floor with its own type and color of California flower, reinforcing the recollection of the floor one is parked on. At the extreme east face of the building, beyond a planter, are broad white louvers.  These, penetrated with slots every three inches, transform the morning to mid-day sun from glare to dappled light, a quality that at times will seem to entirely desolve this part of the structure in a shower of light and shadow.  The guests then follow this bevy of flowers southward to three pairs of escalators which float them on an extraordinary magic carpet ride from either the Fifth Floor, the Third Floor or the Second Floor down to the center of an area where trams await to whisk them to the Disneyland Resort –“The Happiest Place on Earth”.

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Status: Built
Location: Anaheim, CA, US
My Role: Architect