The 1950s brought about a car-dominated culture that dictated the fabric of cities in the United States. Eisenhower’s Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 authorized the construction of 41,000 miles of national highways, connecting cities across the United States, while also displacing and dividing urban neighborhoods. Clearing the path for these highways wasn’t the only physical impact on cities: with so many ways to drive into and around the city, parking lots and structures became a necessity.

Today, ridesharing services, autonomous vehicles, and alternative transportation are changing American parking culture. As billions of parking spaces across the US become obsolete, strategic design solutions will be required to repurpose parking structures.

Construction Sequencing

In an effort to find a sustainable solution to this problem, KTGY’s R+D Studio proposes a system that not only repurposes these parking garages for much-needed housing but does so using repurposed shipping containers that can be simply “plugged in” to maximize efficiency and minimize the disruption to the existing context.

A parking structure ideal for conversion into housing residential units depends on the floor to floor height, proximity to existing buildings, and ramping configuration. A “donut” shaped parking structure, with the ramps concentrated toward the middle and flat, parked areas wrapping around the edges, offers a way to carve out a courtyard and provide daylight to all units. The concept of Park House is theorized within an existing student housing development in San Diego, designed by KTGY. This “donut” shaped parking structure features an efficient layout, ample clear height and access for infilling with shipping containers. As parking becomes less of a priority in the future, converting the structure into additional housing units is a logical next step.


The repurposed containers and interior walls are constructed off-site prior to delivery and installation. With some modifications to the existing structure, the original utilitarian structure transforms into a building that’s hardly recognizable as its past function.

Shipping Containers as Residential Units

The Park House units were designed with one- and two-bedroom options. Tube steel reinforcing and shipping containers surfaces have been left exposed in much of the living spaces. The two-bedroom unit features exposed concrete of the parking structure where the kitchen has been integrated into space between the existing concrete columns.