Park Your…Elephant!?
Project Spotlight

Park Your…Elephant!?

In 1957, Enco Engineering and Richard C. Rich designed a multi-purpose complex for the Dayton Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This new structure was built to replace an obsolete 400-car attendant parking garage, warehouses, and retail stores. Built to provide for a 700-car, self-service parking deck, this new structure included retail shops on the east side of the first floor, warehousing in a sub-basement, delivery truck docks in the first basement, docking and loading space for large trucks on the west side of the first floor, and warehouse space on the mezzanine. The garage was constructed as a sloped-floor, 60-degree angle parking with a spiral down ramp. At the time, the supporting columns of the open area parking decks were designed to support two additional floors.

Subsequently, in 1963, the Dayton Company requested designs for expanding the use of the structure, including additional parking levels and a top floor exhibition hall. It was determined that a 20,000 square foot Exhibition Hall, seating 2,000, could be added above the additional floors of the already existing parking garage.

The exhibition hall, which is also a clear-span structure, was built with large folding doors to separate the interior spaces and has been used for a wide variety of functions. This new area has a complete stage and dressing room unit, and a large loading door opening from the parking deck area. It connects directly to the store, and also with the parking areas.

Here is what Richard C. Rich recalls from the 1963 requests to expand the structure to accommodate for a top floor Exhibition Hall.

“In 1963 I got a call from Daytons Department store in Minneapolis (having done the original garage in 1957) they requested I re-design the structure to accommodate for two more floors of parking. They also asked if they could put an exhibition hall on the top (8th) floor. We had several meetings regarding the exhibition hall and agreed that there would be sufficient strength on the already standing building to support their new requests. They wanted to connect the new exhibition hall to the 8th floor of the already existing department store.

During the discussions we asked what kind of exhibitions’ they were going to be hosting in the new hall since they requested sliding doors so they could partition off the hall and use it for multiple functions. The discussions led to the talk of bringing in a circus to the new exhibition hall which led to the question of what kind of animals will be in this circus. The reply was elephants and other types of animals. I asked how they were going to get the elephants up to the 8th floor of the store and they said they were going to walk them up the parking floors. I looked at him and said I would have to check that out because I didn’t know how much an elephant weighed, but judging from their size it was going to be more than the sloped floors of the garage could handle. During our break I called the zoo and asked what a typical circus elephant weighed, they told me give or take 8,000lbs. Since an elephant will have two feet on the ground at any one time, it would be 4,000lbs of footprint at a time, far exceeding the live load of the parking floors. I went back to the meeting and suggested that walking the elephants up the parking floors would not work and would result in large cracks in the floors. We decided to put an outdoor hatch on the back side of the building, so that if they ever had the big elephants they could lift them by crane and slip them in the back side of the building.

We went ahead with the project and designed the entire building with the interior exhibition hall. During the actual operations they decided it would be too much to bring the elephants onto a crane and into the back of the exhibition hall. The circus decided to bring in baby elephants which caused a minor uproar. Because they were taking the baby elephants up the passenger elevators and up to the exhibition hall, as you could imagine, they spent a lot of time cleaning up the large deposits of dung in the elevator that were left behind from the elephants.”


*The Minneapolis multi-purpose parking structure as basically designed and constructed.


*The complete additions which increased the parking facilities and the Exhibition Hall which increases the utilization of the structure.


*Interior of the Exhibition Hall with mechanized partition in place for smaller exhibits demonstrates the many possible combinations of usage available, one large hall or a group of smaller areas which may be used simultaneously, large folding doors were installed to separate spaces within the Exhibition Space.


*Public acceptance of facilities of this type is obviously indicated in this use of the Exhibition Hall.



*This is a page from Mr. Rich’s project journal from 1958. This image details the price per square foot and price per parking space ($2,426) in which it cost to construct Daytons Dept. Store parking garage in 1958.


What we’ve been up to!
Project Spotlight

What we’ve been up to!

The Rich & Associates Planning Team has been busy this summer! We added an additional four stops to our roadmap with studies in Flagstaff, AZ., Boyne City, MI., Adrian, MI., and Ypsilanti, MI.
  • In Flagstaff, AZ., we spent a full week in July conducting a parking study update consisting of 48 blocks in the Downtown area!
  • In Boyne City, MI., we conducted a week-long study at the end of June reviewing parking pertaining primarily to the downtown area, and will be making recommendations to meet the communities current and future needs.
  • In Adrian, MI., we will be assessing the current and future parking conditions of Downtown Adrian to provide the city with improvements to their parking system.
  • In Ypsilanti, MI., Our team will be working to create a long-term, sustainable parking strategy including a supply and demand assessment; recommendations for both infrastructure and parking system management; recommendations to develop, deploy, coordinate, or support alternate modes; and a financing and implementation strategy.

Groundbreaking at Beaumont!
Project Spotlight

Groundbreaking at Beaumont!

Beaumont Health, a nonprofit hospital with headquarters in Royal Oak, Michigan, is consolidating its shared services employees from 16 different locations to the First Center building in Southfield, Michigan. In 2018 and 2019 some 3,000 Beaumont employees will be relocating to the renovated office building.

 In order to accommodate the large employee population surface and structured parking facilities are underway. Currently under construction is the new South Parking Deck, design by Rich & Associates in association with Neumann Smith Architecture. The new South Parking Deck will provide 600 parking spaces to the campus and is designed to be expanded horizontally in the future.

The New Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion Parking Garage!
Project Spotlight

The New Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion Parking Garage!

Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion Parking Garage, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI.

Rich & Associates recently completed design of a 700-space parking garage that will serve the new Brigitte Harris Cancer Pavilion for at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. As parking consultants to lead architects SmithGroup JJR, Rich & Associates is providing parking consulting, design and engineering services. Currently under construction, the parking garage features a 2,000 sf of ground level space that will house medical data file storage, provisions for future retail space, a receiving area and ambulance bays on the ground level.


Looking back to the 1990s!
Project Spotlight

Looking back to the 1990s!

As we continue to reflect back on significant decades from our first 55 years, this month we are taking a look at some of our most influential projects from the 1990s! During the 1990s we had the pleasure of working with a number of large university campuses and a major airport!

The University of Virginia – Charlottesville, Virginia. – Over a 30-year span, the University of Virginia had constructed and expanded several of the facilities on its richly historic campus. Demand for parking generated from the developments, along with campus population growth, had risen occupancy levels of campus parking to almost 100%. Rich & Associates was selected by the University of Virginia to prepare an implementation plan for the construction of new campus parking facilities. The project was divided in to two phases. Phase I – Site Analysis and Selection Study, and Phase II – Design and Engineering.

To complete Phase I, Rich & Associates implemented a site selection program to effectively analyze each potential site for proposed new parking. In collaboration with the University Project Building Committee, an Interactive Planning and Design Session was conducted on campus for one week. Working closely with the Committee, various campus officials and organizations, a site selection program was prepared for proposed new parking. Evaluation and selection criteria was developed by Rich & Associates, including long-term master planning objectives, cost, level of service, constructability, etc. It was also determined that new campus parking should meet the following goals:

  • To serve the overall parking needs of the University
  • To meet the long-term needs of the UVA community and its surrounding neighborhoods
  • To meet the plans and goals outlined in the University Facilities Master Plan
  • To maximize the number of parking spaces available on any site
  • To increase the parking departments revenue generation capacity
  • To allow efficient and pleasant vehicular and pedestrian access
  • To maintain the beauty and historic character of the University

Following the completion of a parking garage site planning study, Rich & Associates was retained by the University to provide design and engineering services for a new parking garage that was built as part of the expansion and renovation to Scott Stadium. Rich & Associates worked closely with the architects for the stadium expansion and renovation. The result is a unique precast parking garage constructed into the hillside.

The Scott Stadium garage features parking for 650 vehicles during special events at the stadium and during normal school days. The roof or top level of the parking structure was engineered to support parking for large passengers busses and television communication trailers.

Shortly after the completion of the Scott Stadium garage, Rich & Associates was retained to work with a team of local architects on the design and engineering of a second parking garage to serve the new John Paul Jones Arena. The new 15,000 seat arena primarily serves the University’s basketball program. The 1,000 space parking garage serves both the arena and other campus parking needs.

York University – North York, Ontario, Canada. – Seated on over 600 acres of land, York University had been growing steadily since 1963. Until recently, the University has been able to expand surface parking to meet its ever-increasing demand. The new construction will eliminate almost 1,000 valuable spaces and includes Seneca College (a new junior college), a football field, and a Hockey complex. These developments forced the University to take a serious look at the parking conditions on campus, and to plan for their first parking garage. The University selected Rich & Associates to develop a program for the parking and select a site (or sites) for the campus’s first parking garage(s).

Recognizing the concerns of many campus constituents with multi-level parking garages, Rich & Associates conducted on-campus Interactive Planning and Design Sessions. At these sessions, various campus groups were given the opportunity to voice their needs and concerns with the project, including security, accessibility, and the aesthetic impact. The information gathered during these workshops was compiled in a project program manual used in the site selection process. Rich & Associates then analyzed 17 potential parking garage sites. Working with the University, evaluation criteria were established, it included compliance with the overall master plan, vehicular ingress/egress, pedestrian access and safety, revenue generating potential, security, design efficiency, and relative cost.

Once the sites were analyzed Rich & Associates narrowed the options to three principal sites that conformed to the overall objectives of the campus and the goals of the campus master plan. As many as sixteen design schemes were developed on the three chosen sites. Each scheme included various options including educational/office space, an advanced technology center and a campus security office. The architectural relationship and impact on adjacent buildings was studied, as well as environmental impacts, including storm water management. Cost estimates for each scheme were developed and used as part of the overall selection criteria.

Since the completion of the parking master site plan, Rich & Associates provided planning and design services for three campus parking structures including:

  • York Lanes Garage – 350 spaces
  • Arboretum Garage – 750 spaces including 30,000 sq. ft. of space for the campus safety and parking departments and the campus computer lab
  • Student Services Garage – 1,000 spaces

Lester B. Pearson International Airport – Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Rich & Associates, Inc., as parking consultants to the lead engineering team, provided programming and functional design of a new 12,000 space parking garage as part of a new replacement terminal development project at LBPIA in Toronto, Ontario. Working as the lead parking consultant to the prime engineering consulting team for the parking and roadway infrastructure, Rich & Associates coordinated closely with the Airport and terminal design team specifically related to traffic flow of the parking garage, and vehicular and pedestrian circulation between the parking and new terminal.

Two distinct challenges faced the design team. First, was the phasing of one of Canada’s largest free-standing parking garages. Due to the need to maintain existing operations during the phase one construction of approximately 9,000 spaces, the team carefully studied various phase one plans that preserved existing access roads and buildings on a portion of the site.

The second challenge was to design floor plans and a circulation system to accommodate the segregation of varying user groups. The garage provides parking to airport employees, long-term and short-term parking, as well as rental car ready and return functions. The challenge was to segregate and control these types of uses on different levels within this massive 1,063 foot by 656 foot garage while maintaining efficient traffic flow and circulation on each floor and from floor to floor.

Under a separate contract with the airport, Rich & Associates provided planning, design and specifications for new parking access and revenue control systems. The new system featured state of the art information systems, vehicle license plate identification systems, cashiered, pay-on-foot systems and smart meter systems.

Fast-forward 25 years to the second quarter of 2018.

Construction is nearly complete on another one of Dearborn’s newest parking garages! As design/build consultants to Devon Industrial Group of Detroit (DIG), Rich & Associates provided parking consulting, architectural and structural engineering design services for the second parking deck in Dearborn, MI. We are excited to be part of such a transformational project with Ford as they implement the modernization of their research and engineering corporate campus into a modern, green and high-tech campus!

Parking Deck Conceptual Design and Rendering by SmithGroupJJR

Project Spotlight

On The Road Again!

On The Road Again!

The Rich & Associates Planning Team is hitting the road this summer! With stops in Detroit and Saline MI., Arlington Heights IL., Coeur D’Alene ID., and Benson, NC., we’re sure to be traveling to an area near you! Our planning team continues to provide parking planning, needs assessments and long-term strategic parking plans for clients across North America.

Since 1963 Rich & Associates has produced over 500 parking plans for municipalities, hospitals, universities, developers, airports, and transit facilities. This experience includes parking demand and economic feasibility studies, operational and management plans, parking technology application plans, and existing parking improvement plans.

  • In Detroit, MI. our planning team is going to be working with a team studying the need and economic feasibility of a new parking garage to serve City Hall.
  • In Downtown Saline, MI. our planning team will be creating a custom plan to provide the future of Downtown Saline with a functional parking system that supports the economic vitality of the community.
  • In Arlington Heights, IL. our planning team is updating a parking study the firm conducted in 2002. The update will provide new recommendations on how to manage the parking supply to handle the increased demand and new development in the downtown area. We will also provide recommendations on how to make their current garages more user friendly, with recommendations on signage, wayfinding, lighting, security and overall pedestrian friendliness.
  • In Coeur D’Alene, ID. our planning team is returning to the area to conduct a parking study in a district called Midtown. We will provide parking recommendations on how to best manage parking in the current condition and provide several recommendations on how to manage parking as new developments come on line.
  • In Benson, NC. our planning team has begun a parking assessment study. We recently concluded public meetings and completed several tasks gathering key data that will be used in assessing and projecting parking conditions downtown. There has been interest in new development in the downtown and staff is looking for a “road map” to layout future plans to properly manage parking through the proposed growth.

The 11 Mile Rd. Garage is Underway!
Project Spotlight

The 11 Mile Rd. Garage is Underway!

Design is nearly complete and construction will soon begin on the 11 Mile Road Parking Garage in downtown Royal Oak!

This new parking garage is being built by the City of Royal Oak to support the Royal Oak City Center (ROCC) Development plan. The ROCC plan includes a new 130,000 square foot office building, a new City Hall, a new Police Station and a central park, all in the center of downtown Royal Oak. The seven (7) level public parking garage will provide 580 spaces to support the development plan. Construction is expected to start in late Spring 2018. Rich & Associates is the prime design firm providing parking consulting, architecture and structural engineering design services.

The 11 Mile Road Parking Structure is the third parking garage designed by Rich & Associates for the City of Royal Oak in the past 18 years. The first project is the award winning Fifth & Lafayette Parking Garage completed in 2001. The other project is the 2nd & Center Street Parking Garage completed in January 2018.

Continuing our 55-year anniversary celebration!
History of Parking/Project Spotlight
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Continuing our 55-year anniversary celebration!

As we continue celebrating our 55-year anniversary at Rich & Associates this month we are stepping back into the 1980s to recall some of our most unforgettable projects from the decade!

The Wayne State University Parking structure #5 is the fourth project designed by Rich & Associates on the Wayne State University campus in Midtown Detroit, it marks the first parking structure designed by the firm in collaboration with Walbridge Aldinger Construction of Detroit (now known as Walbridge). While this successful project is a fairly simple structure, it represents the birth of a long term successful relationship with Walbridge that spans more than 30 years. Since the successful completion of Parking Structure #5, Rich & Associates has had the honor of working with Walbridge on 26 parking garages, totaling more than 34,000 parking spaces, across the country.
The WSU Parking Structure #5 contains 1,078 parking spaces and was successfully completed in 1987 at a cost of $5 million.

While this successful project is a fairly simple structure, it represents the birth of a long term successful relationship with Walbridge that spans more than 30 years. Since the successful completion of Parking Structure #5, Rich & Associates has had the honor of working with Walbridge on the successful completion of 26 parking garages, totaling more than 34,000 parking spaces, across the country. Some of the more memorable design/build projects with Walbridge include;

Compuware Parking Garage (now One Campus Martius Garage), Detroit, MI.

  • 2,200 spaces
  • Ground level retail
  • Constructed over existing elevated people mover tram that remained in operation during construction
  • Two levels below grade and nine levels above grade.

Pierce Street Parking Garage, Tampa, FL


  • 580 spaces
  • 10 levels
  • Constructed on tight downtown site

General Motors Warren Tech Center Parking Garages, Warren, MI.

  • 5 parking garages totaling more than 9,000 parking spaces


Rich & Associates, and our parking development and management affiliates MEDPark and MEDPark Management, were first involved with Iowa Methodist Medical Center (IMMC) in 1983. The 30-year relationship began when Rich & Associates first performed a parking demand study for the Hospital. The purpose of the study was to determine the parking space requirements for a new medical office building to be built adjacent to an existing medical building, and to project the future campus needs. A detailed economic feasibility analysis for a new 600 space parking structure was also completed as part of the overall study

Six months following the completion of the parking study, IMMC decided not to finance the much-needed parking structure and invited private developers to provide development proposals. MEDPark, Inc. was one of three competing proposals that the Hospital received. Upon review, MEDPark’s proposal was deemed the most financially sound and advantageous to the Hospital

Financing was secured and construction began the week of July 8, 1985 and the building opened December 23, 1985. From the time of selection to opening of the structure, the time frame was only 18 months. This included the re-design of all of the paid and employee surface lots.

In 1988 the Hospital was planning several construction projects and required additional parking. The Hospital approached MEDPark with the issue. Since MEDPark built into the original structure capacity to add two more parking floors, MEDPark was able to meet the Hospital’s needs. We were able to fast-track the financing, design and construction of an additional 400 spaces. The expansion was completed in August, 1990 bringing the total capacity of the structure to 1,000.

The final expansion of the structure was to the south and involved an additional 800 car spaces and 94,000 square feet of office space on the first two levels serving as the Hospital’s Medical Education and Research Center (MERC). The MERC includes an auditorium, physician seminar room, health sciences library, classrooms, banquet facilities, and Hospital administration offices. This expansion brought the total capacity of the structure to approximately 1,800 cars.

As owners and operators of the parking structure, MEDPark has invested considerable time and money improving the facility serving the hospital patients, staff and visitors. Columns flanking drive aisles were candy striped in black and yellow because an ophthalmologist reported that some of his patients had trouble distinguishing between shades of gray. We upgraded the lighting, testing new fixtures in the deck to provide better light distribution for patrons to feel secure. MEDPark also made a significant investment improving accessibility for the disabled by enlarging access doors to the Hospital and constructing a larger lobby and wheel chair drop-off area.


In 1984 at the Puerto Rico Medical Center there was no organized parking system. For the most part the parking needs were met by approximately 3,000 uncontrolled off-street spaces. Rich & Associates approached the challenge in two phases. The first phase involved the analysis and preparation of a parking allocation plan for visitors and patients, employees and students. Based on the plan our team then laid out a campus wide system of access and revenue control systems that included cashiered transient lots and card-controlled employee/student lots. Our work included preparing plans and specifications for the construction of new entry and exit plans, and the installation of access and revenue control systems.

In the second phase, MEDPark, Rich & Associates parking management affiliate, put together a partnership with a local partner to finance the parking improvements and operate the entire campus parking system for the hospital.

Then in 1985, Rich & Associates’ planning team conducted an exhaustive demand and economic feasibility analysis for the planned construction of an 800-space parking deck. Based on the demand and economic feasibility study results, MEDPark and their partners financed, developed and operated the parking deck and the campus wide parking system over the next 20 years.

Parking Garages can be Eco-Friendly too!
Project Spotlight

Parking Garages can be Eco-Friendly too!

Eco-friendly (green) building is becoming increasingly popular each year!

In honor of Earth Day this month, we’ve decided to take a closer look at the most common practices and benefits of Eco-friendly design and construction. Whether you’re building new, or overhauling an existing structure, there are many ways to implement Eco-friendly building practices into all types of designs.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says “Green building is the practice of creating structures and using processes that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and deconstruction. This practice expands and complements the classical building design concerns of economy, utility, durability, and comfort. Green building is also known as a sustainable or high-performance building.”

Rich & Associates is committed to our environment and to responsible sustainable design. In every project we design, sustainability is always a leading program criteria. We take great pride in having played a part in the design of several LEED / GREEN Certified parking structures including;

Blue Cross – Blue Shield Parking Structure, Detroit MI.
LEED Certified

City of Traverse City – Old Town Deck, Traverse City MI.
LEED Silver Certified

Washtenaw Community College Campus Green Parking Structure, Ann Arbor, MI.
LEED Gold Certified

Ames Intermodal Facility, Ames, IA.
LEED Silver Certified

Some of the most common Green building practices are:

  • Using sustainable building materials like recycled glass and steel.
  • Installing energy-efficient windows and doors.
  • Using lower-VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and stains.
  • Constructing green roof systems (aka “plants on your roof”) that offer many benefits, including on-site gardens, rainwater management, and protecting your roof from the effects of harmful UV light.
  • Adding water harvesting and purification systems that don’t just manage, but also make the most use of rainfall.
  • Maximizing natural light, which cannot only save on lighting requirements (and subsequently energy costs), but also help keep buildings warmer during the colder months.
  • Using renewable energy to power the building—for example, installing a commercial solar panel system.

Benefits you will get from a Green building:

  • Reduced energy costs while efficiently reducing trash, pollution and degradation of the environment.
  • Efficiently using energy, water, and other natural resources.
  • Reduced operating costs.
  • Enhanced indoor environment quality.
  • Low maintenance and operation cost.
  • Reduced carbon footprint.

At Rich & Associates, sustainable design is not just what we preach, it is also what we practice in our own parking structures. Through our affiliates, MEDPark and MEDPark Management, we are also involved in the development and management of parking structures. While some of our projects were completed before sustainable design was widely practiced, today we are upgrading our facilities to improve their operating performance and lesson their impact on the environment. We are always looking at ways to improve accessibility to reduce vehicle idling thus carbon emissions.