Austin, TX has a title-winning professional soccer team and a vibrant community of adults (and kids) who play soccer regularly with very limited options for practice fields. We also have a growing traffic and parking problem, especially in the urban areas where people want to live. So, why don't we have parking garages with soccer fields on top? Doesn't this seem like a logical solution to two complimentary problems? I say complimentary because parking garages are mainly single-use structures that see most activity during the weekday daytime hours while soccer training usually occurs on weeknights and weekends.
The optimal dimensions for a soccer field are similar to those of a parking garage. A full size, regulation NCAA soccer field is 240' x 360' (maximum). A typical parking garage with two aisles of traffic is 113' wide. Double that and it's 226' wide - very close to that of a soccer field. The top level of a parking garage is typically the last level to fill up, especially here in Texas where the scorching sun is not friendly to automobiles. Why not put a full field or two smaller practice fields on top of a planned parking garage?
Well, one reason could be cost. Parking garages average $40-60/sf to build. A recent soccer field/parking garage structure at Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE), with three stories of structured parking, cost $350/sf to build. There may be some cost savings if the parking size is increased and the soccer field size or quality decreases. The MSOE field features state of the art LED lighting, stitched lines, bathroom facilities, stadium seating and a costly brick and steel facade. Perhaps some of those bells and whistles could be eliminated to bring the cost down to a reasonable level.
Offsetting cost may be added revenue from soccer field rental on a weekly or monthly basis. However, at a going rate of $75/hour-and-a-half use may not be enough to make the upfront costs viable.
How can Austin architects influence the development of our city towards synchronized building uses that respond to the realistic needs of the city? Perhaps looking outside of our own city towards other progressive cities and introducing those ideas will be a start.