Alleys of Seattle

Tight Urbanism: the book

Posted in Chicago, Detroit, History, Japan, Melbourne, San Francisco, Sydney by seattlealleys on July 24, 2011

 

Finally after a first round of edits, the book chronicling my travels, adventures, sketches, and photos from this year-long foray into alleyways is available at blurb.com.  Please email me if you have any questions.  You can purchase it from the link above!

Thank you for supporting my work.

– Daniel Toole

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Mount Vernon Alleys visit

Posted in Mount Vernon by seattlealleys on July 24, 2011

After finding my blog nearly a year ago, the Mount Vernon  Downtown Association was kind enough to have me come talk to them today about my travels and take a look at their fine collection of alleys in the downtown.  Poised to become a great center of culture in the Skagit Valley, the downtown, like many cities planned around the turn of the century in the region has a strong main street with a lot of small mom and pop retail shops and a few civic buildings.  Mount Vernon has a slightly problematic relationship with the Skagit River that so beautifully winds through it.  The river tends to flood, warranting the use of a flood wall and in the hopefully near future, a brand new waterfront sea wall design complete with stormwater filtration, an esplanade, and a new setting for their already vibrant farmers’ market.

The alleys here are quite thin – similar to those in Japan and are fortunate to have great sun access because of the lack of many buildings over one or two storeys.  The soil condition is clearly a dynamic one with some buildings dipping and cracking due to the silty fill – and the alleys have their own unique topography due to this uneven settling.  There are many unique conditions, circumstances, and parties involved and excited that could create a brand new layer of experience for this small town and really transform its urban identity.

I would like to thank Frank Bettendorf and the Downtown Association for a lovely day and I can’t wait to see what happens in the beautiful alleys of Mount Vernon!

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Tight Urbanism in Canton Alley

Posted in International District, Pioneer Square by seattlealleys on July 17, 2011

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 exhibit extended to July 15!

Posted in International District by seattlealleys on July 7, 2011

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!

Best,

Daniel Toole