Mark Byrnes is a former senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
In Detroit, park your car in 'The Z' and you'll find yourself in a drive-thru art gallery.
In a city known for its stellar street art scene, some of Detroit's most recently painted walls are inside a downtown parking garage.
Since it opened in January, drivers entering The Z, a 10-floor parking structure on Library Street, have been treated to an art show as they scale each slithering floor, designed to replace a series of former surface lots while leaving older neighbors intact.
Easy to spot with an odd, angular exterior, The Z's insides have been painted over by 27 different artists from around the world thanks to a partnership between the garage owner, Bedrock Real Estate, and its most artistic neighbor, the Library Street Collective, which highlights artists with a focus on public space.
On a visit today, you can watch a documentary about the art project on a TV screen near the garage's first floor elevators. And if you choose to park your car there, it'll be hard to stop at the first open spot. Each floor's massive wall pieces make for a surprisingly fun drive up.
If you do find yourself on the top floor, having bypassed dozens, perhaps hundreds of open parking spots while gawking at each mural along the way, you'll be rewarded with not only more art, but an impressive 360-degree view of downtown.