The Disadvantages of Multi-Story Car Parking

by Keith Evans
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Drivers who use multi-story parking facilities, sometimes known as parking garages, often enjoy a number of benefits the structures provide. Despite the ability of the garages to house a large number of cars, multi-story parking facilities also carry a number of distinct disadvantages that arise from their tall, enclosed and often dimly lit nature.

Deterioration and Maintenance

Multi-story parking facilities support hundreds of thousands of pounds of vehicles, people and equipment every day. Because the garages support very large amounts of weight and loads that constantly change, the structures quickly deteriorate in the absence of constant maintenance activity. In addition, according to Canada's National Resource Council, changing weather and environmental conditions can deteriorate a garage's steel support structure, creating an unsafe environment for garage users. A number of corrosion inhibitors can help delay processes that eat away at the structure's integrity, according to the National Resource Council, but constant maintenance and upkeep must include anti-corrosion measures to keep multi-story parking facilities structurally sound.

Parking Angle Considerations

Because many drivers of varying levels of skills and experience drive in, around and out of parking garages every day, designers must pay special attention to the configuration of parking spaces within the structures. In a municipal parking garage presentation prepared by architects Sakri and Khairuddin, the designers noted that two-way traffic flow in a multi-story garage presents a number of parking challenges for drivers and designers. Parallel parking, for example, creates an inefficient use of limited space, while straight parking spaces make parking difficult for some drivers. Other options, like angled parking, do not work well with a two-way traffic flow and can only work well in garages with separate entrance and exit openings.


While most parking lots open at night, multi-story or otherwise, require some form of lighting, the multi-story nature of parking garages creates a need for numerous lights throughout the structure. In addition, because the inside of the structure may remain dark even during the day, many of these lights must run at all times. This arrangement can create high energy bills for garage owners and may require frequent lighting maintenance to replace broken or burned-out bulbs.


Because multi-story parking facilities allow limited natural light inside, some security experts express concern about safety inside the structures. In their municipal presentation, architects Sakri and Khairuddin recommend security devices that directly connect to local police or public safety stations. In addition, the architects explicitly describe a need to reduce dark places where criminals may hide. Even with security measures in place, though, criminals still seem to thrive in multi-story parking structures; in a 2009 article in the Chicago Sun-Times, one parking garage user expressed frustration after experiencing three burglaries within two years.

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