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Zoom in: the Loop

A parking garage that resembles a Rolls-Royce is significantly more fascinating than a parking garage that resembles a parking garage.

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Parking garages aren't generally known as inspired architecture. The self-park at 60 E. Lake, visible from the train as the Loop tracks turn at Wabash, might stand out on this note alone: its gaudy, teal, art deco facade makes for the most eye-catching garage in downtown Chicago. But to the average rushed passerby, the structure probably just looks like another run-down self-park, albeit a brightly colored one.

Designed by local architect Stanley Tigerman and built in 1986, the garage is made to look like the front end of a Rolls-Royce. The entrance and exit awnings are the car's tires, a bumper sits directly above, and the front of the building is its gigantic, colorful grille. Two round windows at the top level become headlights, and a small statue sits front and center, acting as a luxury hood ornament.

The humongous Rolls isn't superobvious, but once you make sense of it, you'll never look at the garage the same way. And if you're anything like me, you'll be filled with childlike whimsy every time you pass it.

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