Everyday Design: Where did I park again?

parking-structureEvery now and then I get inspired by those health reports on the news about how to incorporate healthy living into our busy everyday lives. My latest quest has been to try to take the stairs every day in the parking structure. Recently, there has been some renovating and the stairs were repainted.  Let me state how surprised I was during the priming phase to feel so claustrophobic and enclosed in the stairwell when everything was grey, so I was incredibly grateful when they finally added some color to the walls.  However, they seemed to overlook the importance of which color.

Each floor within the structure has a unique color assigned to it, which is an excellent way to help people remember where they have parked. After a year and a half of parking here, I have all the colors and their assigned floors memorized.  There is even a nice legend in the elevators that lists each floor along with its color to help ensure people are selecting the appropriate floor.  Before the repaint, the colors assigned to the floors also matched those in the stairwell, which provided similar information to the legend in the elevators.  Yet, since repainting, every floor within the stairwell is yellow. Yellow is the assigned color to the fourth floor.

I often have a ton of things on my mind as I am arriving to and leaving from work, and remembering my exact parking spot isn’t ever at the top of my list.  I have figured out how to rectify this by always parking in the same vicinity on each floor. But in my daily morning haste, I don’t always remember to check the color of the floor until I am already running down the stairwell. It was nice when I could easily glance back to see the color as I was running down the next flight. Probably even more important is seeing the floor color in the stairwell on the way home. Seventy-nine stairs. That’s the number of stairs I have to climb if I am parked on the fourth floor of the structure. So imagine how much I am huffing and puffing as I make my way up to floor seven. When the colors in the stairwell matched the assigned floor color, I was able to see the progress I was making. This was a good motivator for me to keep going because, for me, seventy-nine stairs feels like a thousand. Not to mention, if you get into the stair groove, it’s easy to go past your floor. I’ve done that too and had to walk even more stairs, which may be a good thing for my health initiative, but it’s a bad one when I am in a hurry to get home. Color has meaning. It’s a part of the parking structure design that I have grown accustomed to using. Now I either have to crane my neck to see the color as I conquer the steps or keep track of the flights I have taken. It’s a shame to have a user-friendly part of the parking experience be impacted by someone who didn’t consider how people are using the colors.

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