Alleys of Seattle

Chicago day 3

Posted in Chicago by seattlealleys on September 17, 2010


After meeting with David Leopold and Janet Attarian of the Chicago department of transportation’s green alley program I have a more clear idea about how the citys alleys work.
As in San Francisco, the city owns the whole alley and property lines end at walls. There are names for all the alleys that run east west that typically end in “place”. Business loading and pick up areas then have their own address. Many blocks have t- shaped alleys so through traffic on a commercial building back does not run into a residential one. It is also illegal to have parking garage access off an alley.
As far as the green alleys, I got to see the main downtown pilot one, Couch Place which unified the stage enttances for a handful of theaters. This alley now is flanked by gates with signs ovethead to announce to the street. It has high albedo concrete sides and permeable brick-looking pavers that allow for water to soak down into the ground at about a half inch a minute during a typical storm, alleviating many basement floods caused by overloaded shared drains flooding and backing up in peoples buildings. The whole city’s sewer infrastructure was recently modeled to study these bottlenecks. There have been about 100 alleys greened throughout the metro area predominantly on the fringe of downtown. They continue to green them through selection based on these plumbing bottlenecks.
Before leaving, I had to go see Perkins + Will’s office at wabash which was incredible. It is on the 35th and 36th floors if more’ last building and gas floor to ceiling glass views of everything as it looms right over the north side of the river.

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