There used to be a clear “pecking order” to desirable projects for architects. The premier jobs were grand civic projects such as museums and concert halls. Next in line were choice projects such as hotels and corporate headquarters. Last on the list were the utilitarian structures like parking garages. So when did things flip-flop, and the utilitarian structures become the cool commissions?

Take a look at these modern masterpieces!

The 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage designed by the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron Architekten is considered one of the most beautiful public garages in the world. This is a mixed-use building with shops on the bottom level and office space on the top floor. Who can believe that a parking  garage is considered one of Miami’s most notable architectural gems?

Miami Garage design by Herzog & de Meuron

No need to worry about searching for a parking space at the Autostadt parking garage in Wolfsburg, Germany. Cars are actually parked via robotic arms that reach to the top of the 20-story garage.

Autostadt Automated Parking Wolfsburg, Germany

At first glance this parking garage in Oklahoma City seems lackluster compared to some of the other showpieces we’ve featured. Nevertheless, there is real beauty to this design, which hides cars with a translucent mesh skin. The mesh actually lets the garage “breathe,” so the building meets code in terms of air quality. The real beauty of this building is that the color changes with the reflection of the rising and setting of the sun.

Car Park One Oklahoma City

Santa Monica, California is home to the world’s first LEED-certified parking garage. The photovoltaic panels and lamination provide the majority of the building’s energy needs. Construction materials include many recycled products. Forget the sustainability – we love the lights, which make this building look like a piece of contemporary art.

Santa Monica Civic Center Parking Garage

Perhaps the days of driving around for a parking spot in order to avoid a dank, dark garage are over…

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