Alleys of Seattle

Reclaimed infrastructures

Posted in Uncategorized by seattlealleys on May 12, 2010

One of the most interesting aspects of cities is their texture -culturally and physically. I have begun to notice tiny places throughout the alleys and the city in general where the natural world has crept up, on, and into our paths and begun another series of layers over our existence. The edge of urbanity blurs at these points of reclamation.
One of my recent favorite instances if this can be found halfway down a pioneer square alley where flowering weeds have found their way into a wall and onto a window sill.  This should serve as a model for our continual development of cities.  We should allow, assist, and design for new ways that we can coexist with ecological forces so often pushed behind increased returns on investments, efficiencies, etc.  Photo credit goes to Karann MacNealy on the Jane’s walk a couple weekends  ago.

You can check out this simple welding project that is assisting in this reclamation process off University between 1st and 2nd.  It contains some sedums often used for green roofs and continues to flourish.  I encourage everyone to plant something in between bricks, under a downspout, on a window sill, or anywhere that will benefit an alley near you.  What is now considered a lifeless byproduct of urban efficiency can now be a place for environmental benefit and growth.

Jane’s walk turnout

Posted in Uncategorized by seattlealleys on May 4, 2010

Thank you everyone for coming!  It was awesome to see more than one other person, pigeon, or rat walking around in there this weekend!  Our walk lasted for two hours and brought some interesting things to light.  We moved from the Moore all the way to Maynard and Canton Alleys where we got to go in and speak with the owner of Sun May, who gave us a brief history lesson on the two alleys.  Apparently they were live/work and the first two major blocks in the area.  This could explain their having commercial space on three sides instead of just two.

There were many great questions asked and a lot of new things discovered.  I would like to thank Lisa Quinn of Feet First and Todd Vogel of the International Sustainability Institute for opening their office n on a weekend to talk about their great space and initiatives.  I would encourage everyone who attended the tour to tell their friends to walk through the alleys, imagine what they could be, plant things, and keep an eye on them.  The city needs to look at them as pedestrian assets more and more until they are capable of turning them into just that.   There is a lot of character, potential, and history within these spaces – we only need to bring them to the attention of everyone.  Thanks to Heidi Oien for giving me the idea to do this and thanks to everyone who came out. Thanks also to Karann MacNealy, Animish Kudalkar, and Max Foley for taking photos along the way.  I will be posting information shortly on a volunteer group that is gathering to paint and clean Maynard and Canton alleys in hopes that they can be returned to a great commercial and pedestrian area – so stay tuned.

Also, now on flickr – check out photos of our walk along with Jane’s walks across the U.S. and Canada!  http://www.flickr.com/groups/janeswalk2010/pool/

Jane’s walk

Posted in Uncategorized by seattlealleys on April 23, 2010

I was invited to lead a walk in honor of late famed urbanite Jane Jacobs next Sunday, May 2nd, due to my love for the dark caverns of our city.  The walk will showcase some of my favorite nooks and crannies throughout some of the alleys in Belltown, Downtown, Pioneer Square, and the International District.  We will be meeting at the back of the Moore Theater at 12 noon, one of the most sculptural alleys we have, and will end next to the Wing Luke.  Come see some interesting spaces that you might walk by everyday and never notice!

Here’s the intended route:

I hope to see you!

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Documentation pursuit 2

Posted in Uncategorized by seattlealleys on March 16, 2010

This weekend, I began to take some ideas for drawing and sketch documentation into analysis.  This approach looks at the drawing as a machine, where by doing it, it does more than a photograph or a memory on some level.  This method seeks to record planimetric information, elevation, apetures, existing structures, and with a few cuts, perspectival relationships.  I am really excited about the possiblities for this. This work was inspired by a book on Dali and Escher, as well as unfolded architectural drawing styles.

The next project is the exploration of the potential of a fold-out panoramic sketch with this Japanese-inspired sketchbook:

http://www.moleskine.com/catalogue/classic/hard_black_cover/japanese_album__pocket.php

I also took a walk up two alleys I am considering for a sort of theoretical masterplan study.  The alleys between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd run almost completely unobstructed to the Seattle Center beginning just across the street from SAM and Benaroya Hall.  These spaces run through the market area, through the crank in the grid, through the nightlife of Belltown, and through the more marginalized areas.  The security and safety one feels diminishes the further north one goes.  These alleys could literally stitch these fragments together.  There are plenty of interesting conditions along these two paths that warrant reconsideration.  I will post some collages soon on some of the hidden treasures that border both.

Hoge building alley

Posted in Uncategorized by seattlealleys on February 22, 2010

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Fifty percent of this alley is old building stock complete with a massive beautiful fire escape and disconnected downspouts leaking stormwater onto bricks. Moss has begun to grow where the misguided water flows. The northern half of the alley is bound by a low parking structure to the west and a large, flat-fronted tower podium to the east. The parking structure offers a perfect study area for an alley oriented facade study.

Documentation pursuit

Posted in Uncategorized by seattlealleys on February 16, 2010

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I am pursuing various mediums at the moment on how to document and design within the alleys. Last night I tried built frame, a panoramic technique that lends itself well to documenting tight spaces. Depending on the size of the photos, one can almost be within the subject space due to the movement of the eye around the physically flat medium. I plan to collage drawing and painting over the tops of these first.

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