Nike World Headquarters is a monumental tribute to the sports industry. Located in Beaverton, Ore., the nearly 300-acre campus pays homage through buildings named after decorated athletes the likes of LeBron James, Serena Williams and Lance Armstrong, to name only a few. But it’s not just campus buildings like the Fitness and Child Development centers that give recognition to fan favorites. The campus’ new LA Garage, developed by Seattle-based architecture firm SRG Partnership, global landscape architecture firm PLACE and Portland-based contractor Hoffman Construction Company, takes a step beyond the traditional parking structure design. Using unconventional methods and materials to create a space for the campus community to park and play, while also featuring murals of famed Olympians and color schemes of Los Angeles sports teams, the LA Garage is an ode to Nike’s cultural and innovative values, and both past and present sports legends.
“Being tasked with designing a parking garage that doesn’t look like a parking garage was definitely no easy feat,” said Marquesa Figueroa, project designer and associate at SRG, in an email to The Registry. “From the beginning we drew inspiration from the client’s brand, innovation and culture, which helped us identify ways to push the normal limits and develop a structure that was unique and in line with the company’s values.”
The LA Garage, which opened in early 2017, is 409,000 square feet and can house 1,130 cars. Its four levels enclose around an interior covered courtyard, which is surrounded by three sides of backlit glass, and the exterior walls are canted and tilted to emphasize the main theme of movement. The massing of the building is broken up into segments to allow for daylight to enter the space. In essence, the design team’s goal was to develop a parking garage with neither the traditional feel or look of an actual parking garage.
“The main design objective was to redefine the role of the traditional parking structure,” said Jeff Yrazabal, design principal and SRG’s president, in an email to The Registry. “…The design draws upon themes of play, movement and community to upend the unremarkable routine of parking in a garage and reflect the client’s athletic brand.”
This interpretation became concrete through decorative artwork and areas designed specifically for play, primarily in the garage’s central courtyard, which can be accessed through elevators, a slide, or wooden risers that also act as grandstands for events. The courtyard is multipurpose, whether that be for the community to relax or gather together for events. Its curved glass covering also provides shelter from inclement weather, making it usable year-round.
Initially, the Campus Master Plan had situated a road between the LA Garage and the daycare next door. The team realized that by rerouting traffic, closing off the road and designing an extended courtyard adjacent to the daycare, they could further activate the space.
“This increased activation of the site allowing the covered courtyard to open to the track and training amenities that kids at the daycare could play on and athletes and employees could use as well,” Figueroa said.
Electric vehicle charging stalls are grouped together in the structure and were an important feature for the team to include with the design.
“It communicates that they understand that the role of parking structures will continuously change and they’re prepared for this need to grow over time,” Yrazabal said.
One of the team’s favorite features of the LA Garage is the slide that gives visitors access to the courtyard.
“At the opening of the garage, our entire team slid down all together, which not only celebrated the opening of the structure, but [was] such a fun memory of us literally leaning back and enjoying the space,” Figueroa said.
The project team’s goals weren’t just achieved through the physical design, but also through the materials chosen for the LA Garage. The team wanted the exterior walls to be perforated to allow light and air in, but they also sought to conceal the cars from view. As such, they chose perforated metal panels for the outer building skin and arranged them along a diagonal grid to further add to the idea of movement. The panels are lighter colored at break points and gradate in a darker shade the further away they get from the reveals.
“The garage was also part of a major expansion that represented the next chapter of developing the campus,” Yrazabal said. “Other buildings were utilizing metal panels so the opportunity to visually tie into campus and provide continuity was another key benefit.”
As an added feature, the perforation of the metal panels also contains a hidden message: A custom Morse code with Nike’s slogan, “Just Do It.”
“The code runs diagonally across each façade in four colors in four different positions on a custom aluminum extrusion,” Yrazabal said. “This was another unique opportunity to integrate the client’s brand in a sophisticated way.”
The three backlit glass sides to the courtyard feature large-scale murals of record-seetting athletes from the 1984 Summer Olympics in L.A.: the first women’s marathon winner Joan Benoit Samuelson, four-time gold medalist Carl Lewis and Nawal El Moutawakel, the first Muslim female Olympic gold medalist born in Africa.
This is not the project’s only nod to sports champions, however. The Dodgers, the Angels, the Rams and the Lakers are represented with their respective team colors on each floor of the garage interior. This is not only to better the experience for visitors, but also to help with wayfinding.
The team faced a challenge with the scale of the building when working through the design, mainly in relating the exterior scale to the human experience. The team carved out the courtyard between the 60-foot bays, which brought to prominence the daylight element of the structure and formed a welcoming atmosphere for visitors to the campus. The team also relied upon their main theme of movement to overcome the scaling challenge.
“Aligning the panels in a pattern along a diagonal grid and layering the facade elements gives the building an athletic stance, appearing ready to spring forward,” Yrazabal said. “Each of these design moves broke down the scale of the building to relate to the users and the rest of campus.”
The diagonal grid was also challenging for the team, however, since they had no precedent for attaching the metal paneling to the building at this angle. With the help of manufacturers, installers and the project’s structural engineer, nation-wide engineering firm KPFF Consulting Engineers, the team was able to solve this challenge to create a design that ultimately worked to fulfill the overall project goals.
“We tried not to think of the program as a parking garage, but as a building that needed to be incorporated into the fabric of the campus,” Figueroa said.