I am excited to be heading to San Francisco during the middle of my second to last semester at Harvard’s GSD to attend the Urban Land Institute’s Fall 2015 Conference. I am still readjusting to life back in the United States after an incredible year based in Berlin exploring cities such as Hamburg, Stuttgart, Paris, Prague, Vienna, Brussels, Istanbul, Budapest, and Lyon. Stay tuned for reports from San Francisco as well as some long overdue photos of alleys in the afore-mentioned cities.
I have re-branded the blog to be an extension of my practice’s site, freshly launched at danieltoole.com – take a look at some of the new work happening, particularly the first official alley design project coming in Miami Florida’s Design District – more updates on this soon.
If anyone in the Seattle area would be interested in using the Tight Urbanism exhibit boards, I am looking for a new home for them where they can be used for educational purposes. These boards contain drawings, photos, maps, and writing explaining alley case studies in Chicago, San Francisco, Tokyo, Kyoto, and Melbourne.
Please send me an email if you would be interested in taking them: firstname.lastname@example.org
see images of the boards here (pallet displays no longer exist) – https://alleysofseattle.com/2011/07/17/tight-urbanism-in-canton-alley/
My campaign to fund my time at Harvard will be featured in today’s issue of the New York Times in the finance section. It’s incredible what an adventuresome idea can lead to. The alleys were a similar story.
Pick up a copy – this endeavor is an interesting alternative to student loans and should prove to be an interesting experiment.
Hello everyone, recently I was accepted into the Master’s of Urban Design program at Harvard and will be moving to Boston in August. I recently was accepted as a campaign on the crowd-funding site Pave.com, which is like Kickstarter – but for people pursuing education and other types of investment. The return rate is 7 percent of my salary over the decade following my graduation from Harvard. I have raised nearly $10,000 of my $30,000 goal and would like to present my campaign to you all via my alley network. Check out my campaign here http://pave.com/campaign/5176b342afe8f9566fde4313 Please message me if you can think of possible investors, or are personally interested. Thank you.
Stay tuned for thought on Italian urbanism coming next!
An excerpt from my journal during my first viist to Amsterdam last month:
Thus far, Amsterdam reminds me most of Kyoto, perhaps due to the jumble of condensed, narrow streets and thin reflective canals all walled in by tall, skinny tower-like buildings. When in Japan they were wood- they are stone here. Already, a sophisticated relationship to water is clear in the waterfront and canals and their many drawbridges.
This radial city is made up of a unique interwoven series of streets, alleys, and canals that intersect one another in a sort of sunrise pattern like grain. The water’s presence even down a tiny lane is surprising and lends a certain rhythm to traversing the town. Although, it is undoubtedly best to navigate these conditions by taking part in the swarm of bicyclists that are ubiquitous here.
The alleys are full of everything you’d expect them to be full of in Amsterdam – bars, coffee shops, and of course a very unique selection of storefronts in the red light district. It is interesting to think about Amsterdam without the primary streets – if the radial main thoroughfares were compressed down to three meters like most alleys, the relationship of the alley ways complete with bicycle lane down the middle, and the numerous canals would create a more formalized Venetian quality. I will post next about my experiences travelling through Italy for the first time last month. I am contemplating packaging my travel journal together and publishing it as an addendum to TIght Urbanism in the coming year, as I found many interesting things in the realm of architecture and the city.
The Seattle Design Festival was an honor to take part in. It was fantastic to see all the different design community members gathered in one place in the city, activating it, and attracting so much interest. This type of pop-up urbanism is what this city, and many others need. An event, while requiring planning, does not need the capital, bureaucratic process, and vision that a building needs and thus creates a unique type of community and urbanity that can build momentum for a neighborhood, block, or alley.
The pallet displays lived their life and served their purpose and were recycled after this exhibit, it’s fourth in the city after Belltown, Pioneer Square, and the International Distrixt. The boards are still available and in fine condition if you have an alley party or community meeting you wish to use them at, please let me know. Thank you to all who showed up at the Design Festival, and the friends who helped me put this all together.
Also, if you didnt’ catch the interview earlier this year, The Atlantic Cities blog featured a brief article on my work and views on alleys, check it out here.
Let me know if you’d like the whole hour and fifteen minute long movie and I would be happy to make the file available to you.
Thank you to everyone who came to the opening of Tight Urbanism at AIA Seattle this last Wednesday. Thank you as well to those that sponsored, advised, and helped with this whole study. I would like to thank the AIA Fellows’ Committee for allowing me this great adventure. The exhibit will run until July 1st at the AIA gallery in Belltown from 10-5 weekdays. If you would like a private tour, please let me know ahead of time and I will block out times throughout the day.
Additionally, the exhibit will move to Maynard Alley behind the Wing Luke Asian Art Museum for an alley party in early July. I will be leading a walking tour Saturday, June 25th in conjunction with the gallery exhibit that you can buy tickets for through the Seattle Architectural Foundation here.
Thank you to Richard Tran, a friend of mine, for taking fantastic photos of the exhibit opening Wednesday. I would also like to thank people that came through Firehouse Alley last First Thursday to see what we were up to! There are a few more alley parties and activities that will take place in Pioneer Square alleys this summer. Stay tuned here and on the tweet feeds to the right for when and where they will be.
I have consolidated my travel sketches, photos, and writing into a little book titled Tight Urbanism that I will be selling on here on the next post.
Thank you again everyone for the opportunity and support with this work.
– Daniel Toole
A day spent in the alleys and canal edges of Gion, the old entertainment district of Kyoto, where retail has compacted the storefront into a three foot deep experience that typically would require twelve in the west. Shades, screening, gardens, drainage, and displays are integrated in a tight unison. The thickness of the wall is the journey from the realm of the city to the realm of the merchant.
Laneway culture is intense here. The city has the perceptual feel and grain of a medeival city, yet stuck into a 90 degree grid network. Down about half of the alleys, you will find a restaurant, secret bar, or coffeehouse. After meeting with Robert Moore, head urban planner for the city council of Melbourne, I realize this is not a historic thing. This has been a slow transformation since the 1980’s lead by a visionary collaboration between the city and Gehl architects, and a series of consultants. The city has tried to draw the creative class back into the city with the slow building of residential buildings and the upgrading of streets, parks, and laneways. They have a huge focus on public space that really is perceivable as you move through the city.
Regarding the amazing myriad of cool bars in lane ways, I had a great discussion with the bar staff at Sister Bella, off a hidden alley regarding the role of the liquor license in this culture. Depending on the length of operation per day, you pay more for a license. There is a sweet deal between lower lease rates for back alley spaces, the right license, and the right degree of food or drink to be served that determines if a bar is profitable enough to try out for potential investors. Sister Bella is owned by one of the original lane way bar owners, St. Jerome, who has spawned an annual music festival that takes place in January in Melbourne, and now Sydney and a couple other major Australian cities. I was also fortunate to be lead to the Croft Institute, an old chemistry lab in a back alley that has maintained the vibe with a plethora of chemistry measuring tools, beakers, etc. strewn about the bar in jewel cases. You find it by going down a c-shaped dead-end alley then heading up a flight of stairs in what I assume is the fire-stair for the building. They have another floor 3 floors up. This type of space lends the city the feeling of a real collage. Pictures to be posted when I am back!
ALSO, THANKS TO ALL THAT ATTENDED THE ALLEY PARTIES ON THURSDAY! I am sorry I was unable to be there but please see the overview of how it went down here – http://www.thenewpioneersquare.com/first-thursday-recap/