Dec 1, 2014

In Detroit, Murals Take a Parking Garage to the Next Level

by: RJ Rushmore

Maya Hayuk

Murals can be great for a lot of things: bringing communities together, inspiration, visually illustrating history, brightening up a wall, and so much more. But what if you simply want to find your car? As I discovered last month on a visit to Detroit, murals can do that, too. The results are spectacular.



The Z is a new parking garage and retail space in downtown Detroit, outfitted with murals on every level. The Z’s developers teamed with local gallery Library Street Collective, which exists practically next door, to bring in over a dozen muralists to paint the building.


Library Street Collective’s Matt Eaton gave me a tour of the entire project, and it was impressive. I can’t remember the last time I was so happy to spend an hour walking through a parking garage, particularly in 16-degree weather. While I had a few favorites,  each mural had its own charm, and Eaton did an expert job of selecting a range of artists with unique styles, from entirely abstract to pop art.

Tristan Eaton

Since each muralist was given a floor to paint, the murals function as identifiers for each floor, just like color-coding does at a typical parking garage. Rather than having to remember if you parked on the red floor or the orange floor, you can remember: “I parked my car in front of the mural that features a cartoon elephant holding a giant mallet with its trunk,” or “I parked my car next to the masked little man carrying a house like a backpack.” Each mural is a powerful visual cue.

Detail of Gaia’s mural

There were even some Mural Arts muralists included in the project: HOW&NOSM and Gaia, who each have murals along 13th Street in Philadelphia’s Midtown Village.


At The Z, Library Street Collective took what could have been some of the most drab walls in the entire city and turned them into the some of the most exciting. The addition of murals successfully turned a space where the typical visitor wants to spend as little time as possible into a tourist attraction.

Lucy McLauchlan

The Z should serve as an inspiration to developers everywhere: Art isn’t just an afterthought. If used well, public art can look great and serve a functional purpose, too.

Dabs and Myla

Photos by Sal Rodriguez, courtesy of Library Street Collective.

Last updated: Feb 3, 2016

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