Alleys of Seattle

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!

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Melbourne day 4

Posted in Melbourne, Pioneer Square by seattlealleys on October 13, 2010

After a breath-taking day on the Great Ocean Road and more than one unforgettable experiences including a wild koala encounter, yesterday was spent exploring the laneways further discovering the incredible policies with which the city has literally transformed itself to catalyze an urban rennaisance in the last ten years. Delving into the policy of accepting graffiti as public art form, the transformation of liquor licensing to catalyze bars and destinations in every nook and cranny imaginable has created a city of urbanity.  The inclined individual could spend a year exploring all the hidden gems.

I was fortunate to be able to speak to architect Sean Godsell in his office on Exhbition Street about Melbourne and his impression of the laneways.  He seemed to enjoy the unique qualities of the city and said when he tries to go to a destination, he always takes the laneways as they offer a more human capillary form of movement through the city.  He also said that the laneways are the biggest success for the city’s programs to pedestrianize and are a huge part of the identity of Melbourne.

I would like to thank Andrea Kleist, of the City of Melbourne’s Arts and Culture branch.  She explained to me the ten year history of their Laneway Commissions, a program that reaches out to the arts community by providing an open competition for artists that allows them to pick their site and project.  This is different than Sydney’s By George! arts commissions as it allows creative freedom and thus maintains a steady stream of interesting applicants every year.  This is fantastic as it complements everything the planners, architects, and engineers are doing to transform the city.  I will give a more detailed description of this decade-long program after reviewing the myriad documentation that the Public Arts Program gave me, thank you so much!

This is the kind of thing Seattle could be incredibly capable of doing.  We have a large supply of artists, and a fairly steady stream of public arts commissions through 4culture, and various neighborhoods.  The alleys could become a curated set of galleries fostering fantastic video, performance, installation, and site-specific art.  It could run for the summer months annually.

Speaking of, I would like to thank everyone again for attending the Firehouse Alley activation party last Thursday.  Richard Tran of the AIA Seattle Design Committee (above) and Justin Martin of SvR snapped some great shots of the activity shown below.  This is only the beginning for this alley and Seattle’s alleys in general!

Firehouse Alley Event 1

Posted in Pioneer Square by seattlealleys on September 30, 2010

A week from today, the first event to celebrate and gather awareness of the tentatively named Firehouse Alley will take place.  I have been meeting with community members lead by Tom Pantaleoni, owner of Distant Lands Importers in Pioneer Square for the last few months, and we have set up a great event that will tie in with a Nord Alley Party.  There will be a light show, a green wall demonstration, music, and local food from 5-9pm.

I will also be exhibiting my findings from the alleys of San Francisco, Chicago, and Detroit, as well as a set of recommendations for the alley that the community and I have come up with on some moving walls constructed of reclaimed pallets.  We have a temporary permit and a tentative small sparks grant for this.  With your input and attendance, the alley can begin to gather more momentum, and we can potentially begin a survey, and design ideas for its’ transformation!

I would like to thank ABC imaging for its’ kind donations for printing our display boards!

Bring a friend!