CONCEPT The MicroTower Parking Booth is part of Bold Booths, a public art program in downtown Columbus that re- imagines the parking booth, an overlooked occupant of the most banal of urban landscapes, as a disruptive artifact, both art and architecture, curious and exuberant. The MicroTower re-creates the parking booth as a new tower on the city’s skyline, realized at a scale both tall and small, its proportions and minimal, monolithic nature mimicking the office towers that surround it. The ambiguity of its perceived scale produces a surreal presence. Nevertheless, at 40’ in height, it assumes the role of both urban landmark and sign for the business of urban parking.
PROGRAM The MicroTower’s interior is utilized as a simple key depository and sometime hangout space for parking valets, but its role goes beyond parking. Due to its location as a site frequented daily by commuters, the booth also serves as an urban concierge, providing highly-accessible urban services to address a range of needs involving health and safety, nutritional eating, convenient shopping, alternative transportation and technology & entertainment. The urban concierge operates as a pop-up retail space with the ability to provide a range of interchangeable services, temporal in nature and responsive to changing opportunities and needs.
FABRICATION The steel shipping container, the staple of the shipping industry, is in overabundance in the US due to our trade deficits in a global economy. Costing more to ship back to foreign countries than to manufacture new ones abroad, they have accumulated in shipyards and trucking depots by the millions. Inexpensive and readily available, these containers (also known as Intermodal Steel Building Units, or ISBU’s) offer an ideal solution to the construction of the MicroTower. The containers’ dimensions, roughly 8 feet by 9 feet by 40 feet, easily accommodate the space required by a parking attendant and the ancillary space for the additional program. The steel container was installed on-site vertically with an insulating polycarbonate cladding and glass storefront entry replacing the plywood floor, now the south exterior wall. An overhead door was installed on the north façade for access to the urban services.
PERFORMANCE The open volume of the ISBU serves as a solar chimney, amplifying the natural ventilation to help passively cool the booth in the summer and heat it in the winter. The polycarbonate panels cladding the south facade allow sunlight to penetrate the interior, creating a greenhouse effect within the container while the ceiling over the occupied space provides both insulation and ventilation. The heated air inside rises and is exhausted through the roof during warm months. This movement of air creates a cooling effect for the attendant space below. Conversely, in the winter months as the interior air temperature rises, a fan at the top of the unit forces the warm air downward, heating the occupied space below. A small mechanical heating/cooling unit provides supplemental conditioning when and if needed.