The Biggest Parking Lots In The World

<p>A rundown of the largest parking structures on the planet -- complete with photos and plans for a new 40,000 car structure in Dubai that is slated to take the crown when completed.</p>
April 11, 2008, 1pm PDT | Christian Madera | @cpmadera
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"With 20,000 spaces in its wrap-around parking structure, West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada holds the Guinness world record for the largest parking lot.

Does that mean West Edmonton has the largest parking structure in the world, then? It all depends on your definition. Some argue that the mall's garage-lot hybrid shouldn't count as a single structure, which would make Seattle's airport garage the winner with its 13,000 spaces under a single roof.

Then, there are those who think in terms of largest parking facilities. With its twin garage structure, each containing about 10,000 spaces, Universal Studios tops the list of largest parking complexes. Most airports have multiple mega-garages too. The Denver International Airport has two 7,000-car giants, and Baltimore's airport boasts both an 8,400-car and a 5,300-car structure.

But it's not just airports and theme parks building jumbo parking garages. Microsoft is constructing a 5,000-car underground garage near its Redmond, Wash., headquarters, and Best Buy recently completed a 6,800-car garage for its base in Richfield, Minn."

"At around $15,000 per space, building these parking garages isn't cheap. Airports and other venues that charge for parking stand to make some of their investment back, but for other garages, the money has to come from somewhere else, such as retail sales or big-ticket events.

All the more reason, then, to overlap use, says Shannon McDonald, an Atlanta-based architect who recently published a book on parking garages. "A lot of these garages were built for office workers, so then they sit empty two-thirds of the day," she explains.

Some parking garage designers, including Walker's Smith, have constructed entire facilities based on this idea of shared usage. In fact, Smith recently worked on one in Dubai that, at nearly 40,000 spaces, could easily become the world's largest once it's completed. Watch your back, West Edmonton."

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Published on Thursday, April 10, 2008 in Forbes
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