Parking garage takes shape in Concord

Apr. 1—The architects of a new parking garage to be built near the State House in Concord drew from the features of surrounding buildings in designing the new $25 million, four-story structure.

"We have so many images and features that we kind of took from other buildings around to make it fit in," said John Alden, of Scott + Partners Architecture, during a Planning Board meeting last month.

The former Department of Justice building is being torn down to make way for the new 409-space parking garage, which will replace the current 205-space legislative parking garage on Storrs Street.

Kevin Trout, another architect with Scott + Partners, said the firm's "prime directive" was to make sure the parking garage didn't detract from the existing architecture of the surrounding buildings, including the State House and its well-known golden dome.

Much of the detail will be precast concrete designed to look like old-fashioned masonry — "so it appears to be rusticated stonework or just block work similar to what the State House has," Trout said.

"We are borrowing from the classical vocabulary," he said.

State officials say the precast structure is "cost effective, efficient, low maintenance" and common in the region.

"The architectural scheme for the garage is well balanced with an appropriate level of period detailing to be a supporting building for its setting. It will reflect the general colors and architectural language of the more ornate surrounding buildings while infilling the entire city block," a project narrative said.

The pedestrian entrance of the garage will be on Capitol Street — complete with trees and other landscaping. Vehicles will enter on School Street and exit onto Capitol Street.

Vehicle barriers

The top floor is not closed off.

"The parapets on the upper level are mostly vehicle barriers; they are tall enough that from the ground you won't see a lot," Alden said. "They are done as a parapet so it looks like the top of the surrounding buildings."

Traffic studies took into account parking at the current building and the Storrs Street garage.

Some worried about how a parking structure would look so close to the State House and other government buildings with their distinctive architecture.

"I think for the people who were concerned because it is a state building and its a parking garage, I think they are going to be pleasantly surprised when they look at this and it looks like the other buildings downtown," said Planning Board member Matthew Hicks.

The last phase of the project includes tearing the Storrs Street garage down, which is in disrepair.

The project is expected to be completed in August 2025.

jphelps@unionleader.com