Inside Honolulu’s Tallest Garage

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It’s 17 stories tall, but don’t worry, it doesn’t feel that way.

This parking garage is taller than many of the buildings in the neighborhood.

PhotoS: Rae Huo

At 150 feet and 17 stories, the new parking garage for the Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children is the tallest freestanding parking structure in Hawai‘i. The garage opens this month, the first phase in a 15-year master plan that will eventually transform the hospital’s entire campus. High-rise parking sounds like a potential nightmare, but architect Joe Farrell says, “We knew it was going to be a stretch,” he says. “But we made it into a beautiful drive.”

Here’s what the state of the art of parking in Hawaii looks like:

Easy navigation

The structure boasts a double-helix design, featuring two interlocked ramps coiling around each other. Each revolution of the ramps brings your car up two stories, which means it takes eight and a half revolutions to reach the top. (In practice, hospital visitors will only ever drive around four times, since the top half of the structure is reserved for hospital staff.)

Also, since one of the ramps is used for going up, the other for descending, drivers won’t have to contend with pile-ups caused by two-way traffic.