the Seattle urbanist promise: the night the alley showed the way

As recently touted in local press, on the evening of March 4, the reclaimed, illuminated Nord Alley in Seattle’s Pioneer Square emanated urbanism. The much anticipated Green Alleys Competition, sponsored by the International Sustainability Institute, AIA Seattle, and other groups, awarded the Grand Prize to Seattle’s Weinstein A|U LLC.

As a placemaking prototype of the sort discussed in the two part myurbanistPlacemaking Comes Home” series earlier in the week, the evening experience amplified angle, color and texture consistent with the eighth of the twelve principles repeated below.

The photos which follow show the rich possibilities of reclaimed pedestrian spaces, without the need to travel thousands of miles to find them.

Here is a one-stop summary of the 12 myurbanist principles to foster placemaking in Seattle, consistent with the current multiple public dialogues about enhancement of alleys, public spaces, street appearance and safety:

1. Emphasize an alluring focal point.
2. Use hanging green.
3. Use simple, green plantings and encourage ornamental building features in the path of view.
4. Where possible, enhance multi-level exposure to vernacular buildings amid the urban fabric.
5. Provide varied forms of encounter with surrounding commercial uses.
6. Celebrate exotic signage.
7. Provide for a multi-color, mixed use environment.
8. Together amplify angle, color and texture to highlight organic street life.
9. Enhance structural features to frame places enroute.
10. Celebrate the marketplaces of vending and dining.
11. Make angles magical.
12. Highlight iconic buildings.

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