Mid-Century: March 2008 Archives

Mid-century makeover

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One of the best examples of mid-century modernism in Riverside is receiving a makeover. Though some -- or even many -- may not see this as a big deal, particularly on account it involves a parking garage, we feel otherwise.

Facelift of "north" garage underway

New facade
City of Riverside


The garage in question is one of two, nearly identical parking structures that opened in 1961* one block apart on Orange Street in downtown. The first "parking terrace" (as they were initially called*) opened behind the then City Hall near Seventh Street (Mission Inn Avenue). The $400,000 structure originally held 202 cars (now 174). Terrace #2, which originally held 186 cars (now 159), opened about a month later one block south near Eighth Street (University Avenue), across from the post office.

The structures were the city's first multi-level parking garages and were primarily aimed at shoring up the downtown retail scene, which had begun feeling the effects of suburban exodus, particularly following the 1956/57 opening of the Riverside Plaza. As such, the garages also facilitated the 1966 opening of the Main Street Pedestrian Mall between Tenth and Sixth streets.

The makeover of the "north" garage near Mission Inn Avenue is well underway. The redesign of the facade incorporates mission flavored motifs while the interior refurbishment includes seismic upgrades, new lighting and a new elevator. Work on the "south" garage is expected to begin sometime following the completion of the first garage.

Though we greatly appreciate the mission revival and Spanish-influenced style of architecture that populates much of the immediate area, we also greatly admire the few mid-century gems scattered around downtown, namely the Central Library and the Orange Street parking garages. And although we do agree with some degree of consistent architectural forms, we also feel that too much of one particular style and/or essentially disallowing "organic" architecture invariably results in a bland, overly homogenous landscape.

Moreover, it appears mid-century architecture is the new "Victorian" blight, likely to only be appreciated after much of the style has disappeared from the landscape. Indeed, each generation has its architectural legacies. Let's hope Riverside heeds past lessons and begins protecting its most notable, post-war "atomic era" buildings before it's too late.

Interior (pre-rehab)

*1961 / RPL

Sources: City of Riverside, The Press-Enterprise

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Mid-Century category from March 2008.

Mid-Century: July 2007 is the previous archive.

Mid-Century: April 2008 is the next archive.

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