Municipalities in North America, where car culture is an ingrained attribute of everyday society, often stipulate the minimum number of parking spaces a new building must provide. But there are signs of a steady move away from our obsession with the automobile. The unofficial tradition of obtaining a driver's licence as soon as legally permitted isn't resonating as much with millennials — many are choosing to opt instead for public transit, cycling, or living close enough to school or work to simply walk. 

The cost of car ownership can be intimidating, as can the purchase of a reserved spot in a condominium parking garage. Buying a dedicated parking spot in a residential development isn't just a costly reality for homebuyers, who often fork out more than $60,000 CAD in Toronto, but it's typically a losing proposition for developers. The logistics of building a parking garage, especially underground, is an expensive undertaking.

With a dedicated parking spot becoming a nice-to-have rather than a must-have, developers are finding themselves in front of municipalities making the case for decreased parking requirements, or sometimes, no parking at all. The five Canadian and American residential projects below forgo spaces for cars entirely, primarily because of their close access to a wide range of alternative modes of transportation.

Construction of N3 in Calgary, image by Forum contributor Surrealplaces

Construction on Calgary's first parking-free condominium has been relatively swift. The absence of parking stalls — which would normally total about 100 for the 16-storey N3 building — has cleared the path for quick progress. Council voted unanimously in 2015 to relax the zoning regulations for the site, allowing the project to move forward without a parkade. Its proximity to the LRT network and neighbourhood amenities precludes the need to drive around town, but each resident will be gifted a lifetime Car2Go membership and a $500 CAD Visa gift card for Enterprise Rent-A-Car if they yearn for a four-wheeled journey. A Biria "easy boarding" bicycle will also be provided to residents once they receive their keys. On average, the 167 units inside the building will be priced about $70,000 less than a comparable building, as the developer passes on the savings to the buyer. 

Crawford Block in Edmonton, image via Beljan Developments

The same trend is happening further north in Alberta's capital city of Edmonton, where a five-storey addition to and restoration of the Crawford Block heritage building will contain 40 micro-apartments and 5,000 square feet of retail space. The walkability of the Old Strathcona neighbourhood and access to public transit were cited as main reasons for the lack of parking. It received a smooth ride through the planning department too; the zoning for the neighbourhood already stated that no parking was required due to the availability of other transportation options. Not only could the building prove attractive to young adults, but seniors as well, who are downsizing or no longer have a vehicle. 

339 Cumberland Street in Ottawa, image via Jane Thompson Architect

An Ottawa project at 339 Cumberland Street near the Byward Market could be joining the growing ranks of car-free developments. The proposed nine-storey building has been pitched by EcoCorner Inc. and designed by local architect Jane Thompson. The boutique project plans commercial space on the ground floor and a garage for bicycles. The development comes shortly after the city eliminated a policy that mandated developers pay a fee if they failed to achieve the outlined minimum parking requirements. 

Residences at Lovejoy Wharf in Boston image via ADD Inc.

South of the border, the 161-unit Residences at Lovejoy Wharf in Boston is rising next to the recently completed headquarters for sneaker company Converse Inc. Developer Related Beal is building the 14-storey project in association with ADD Inc. and Robert A. M. Stern Architects, who have envisioned a building of brick and glass that pays homage to its post-industrial surroundings while adding a touch of modernity. A pedestrian arcade and plaza emphasize the area's walkability and independence from an automobile-focused lifestyle. 

Centro in Miami, image by Forum contributor PhillipPessar

Parking-free condominiums are a little more common in Miami, where Newgard's Centro development has just about finished construction. The 352-unit 37-storey tower is the tallest building on our list, and it features a checkerboard-like design by Sieger Suarez Architectural Partnership. Jorge Perez of The Related Group popularized the no-parking movement in Miami before the recession hit and it's taken off since then. The Miami 21 zoning master plan of 2009 calls for more pedestrian-friendly spaces, driving municipal authorities to waive parking requirements for developments near transit nodes. 

The parking-less push likely won't lose any steam in North America as long as demographics and desires for an amenity-rich urban lifestyle persist. People choosing to buy in dense neighbourhoods with close access to conveniences and public transit know what they're getting into — they don't need or don't care to own a car. The fact that this mindset is having a tremendous impact on the way buildings are designed is a testament to the way architecture responds to market realities. 

Additional images and information on these projects can be found in the Database files linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion or share your photos? Check out the associated Forum threads or leave a comment at the bottom of this page.

Related Companies:  Knightsbridge, Metropia