Yesterday, I had the pleasure of presenting my work in the International District’s Jamfest. This was the first alley site to be visited by the Tight Urbanism exhibit. For over a year now, the Wing Luke has been facilitating discussions regarding doing away with dumpsters in the historic Canton Alley and making it a model clean alley for the International District. The alleys in this neighborhood see an increible amount of dumping and food waste with the plethora of restaurants in the area. In addition to the latent problems, Canton alley posseses a very special history with it’s location between the two Kong Yick buildings. These buildings were built from funds pooled together by hundreds of individuals and families that reached the area during the turn of the century. Canton alley was not only a service alley like its’ other Seattle contemporaries, but actually housed a number of loft-style alley oriented apartments. These large apartments were almost like tenements in that multiple families shared each apartment and some had businesses in storefronts on the alley. These storefronts are still visible here and one of the apartments has been entirely refurbished to look like it would have at the turn of the century – you can organize a tour through the Wing Luke. I am excited to see the dumpsters come out of Canton Alley and for it to become a unique space for the neighborhood.
I would like to thank my friends Cameron Colpitts and Teddy Toyama for helping me move the exhibit around this weekend – pallets are heavy.
Last First Thursday in Pioneer Square, Firehouse Alley also had a great party where we had Irish folk music, hula hoopers, and marshmallow roasting in the alley! There was a great turn out and it is inspiring to think we started working on this alley a year ago and now it is seeing nearly 50-100 people come through every first thursday. Join us at the next party on August 3rd!
Tight Urbanism will continue to run at the AIA gallery in Belltown until next Friday before its move inot Canton Alley, behind the Wing Luke Asian Art Museum. Saturday, July 16, the exhibit will be a main feature of the very first Canton Alley Party! Please check this link for more info on Jamfest and the events to take place. This will be the exhibit’s first mobile outing into an alley and I hope to see you all there! The party will run from 6:30 to 9:30!
Map to Canton Alley
On another note, I will be posting the link to the final draft of my book, Tight Urbanism in the coming week and then the site may go silent for a bit as I have won another travel fellowship that will be taking me to Europe for 3.5 months starting August 21st. The link to my blog for this work is here. I will be building upon my research of the human scaled urban spaces of alleys with the evolution into general urbanism with an emphasis on climate responsive vernacular and medieval urbanism in Scandinavia and the Mediterranean. Please see the link above for my itineraries. If you have any advice or feedback, I would love to hear from you!
I hope you get a chance to check out the exhibit, and if you would like to have the exhibit temporarily somewhere, please let me know as it will be free to move after July 16, 2011!
PS- I hope you will stop by Firehouse and Nord Alley tonight for the Alley parties! I will be in Firehouse until 6:15, so stop by and say hello!
A couple weeks ago, I had one of my best alley outings yet. A friend of mine took me to the International District to see Canton and Maynard Alley, the only two alleys I have discovered in the city thus far that have their own names. Both alleys are a block apart and incredible. About midway down the buildings that border these alleys, storefronts and large windows create actual alley facades. It appears as if these buildings were designed to have programs that would engage the alleys, and apparently continue to do so.
Maynard Alley is home to the fantastic Liem’s Pet Shop and the somberly legendary Wah Mee Club. Upon entering Liem’s store, you feel as if you are in a different city, and perhaps even a different time. Bubbles, tubes, blinking lights and flitting fish are everywhere in a cavernous shop with a friendly automated “welcome” voice that greets you upon entry before you can say hello to the talkative and kindly Mr. Liem. This is literally one of Seattle alleys’ monuments. The shop presses far into the building and the owner informs me it used to be a noodle factory.
Canton Alley faces the new Wing Luke Museum which has some great photos hanging of what the place used to be like. There will be much to explore with these two spaces. They appear to be loaded with a lot more recorded culture than their downtown counterparts.