Five Parises of Emptiness

[Image: Via Curbed LA].

Citing a new report in the Journal of the American Planning Association, Curbed LA points out that “parking infrastructure takes up about 200 square miles of land in LA county.”

That’s more than four San Franciscos’ worth of space (46.87 square miles) and nearly five times the size of Paris (40.7 square miles). Or, as Janette Sadik-Khan wrote on Twitter, “LA County has 85% more parking spots than people, occupying more space than the entire city of Philly.”

Los Angeles, where it’s you and a bunch of parking lots.

A Parking Lot to Last 16,000 Years

Perhaps proof that J.G. Ballard didn’t really die, he simply took an engineering job at MIT, scientists at that venerable Massachusetts institution have designed a new concrete that will last 16,000 years.

Called ultra-high-density concrete, or UHD, the material has so far proven rather strikingly resistant to deformation on the nano-scale – to what is commonly referred to as “creep.”

This has the (under other circumstances, quite alarming) effect that “a containment vessel for nuclear waste built to last 100 years with today’s concrete could last up to 16,000 years if made with an ultra-high-density (UHD) concrete.” (Emphasis added).

So how long until we start building multistory car parks with this stuff? 16,000 years from now, architecture bloggers camped out for the summer in rented apartments in Houston – the new Rome – get to visit the still-standing remains of abandoned airfields, dead colosseums, and triumphal arches that once held highway flyovers?

16,000 years’ worth of parking lots. 16,000 years’ worth of building foundations. Perhaps this simply means that we’re one step closer to mastering urban fossilization.

(Thanks, Mike R.!)