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Seattle's Future Alleys Look Like Paradise

The city looks to the dank gaps between buildings for “vibrant new spaces.”

When you peer into a downtown Seattle alley, you might see rats and people sleeping in dumpsters. That could change, however, as the city plans to turn some of these airless holes into charming, plant-filled utopias.

This week the Department of Transportation outlined renovations to three alleys that, to believe the hype, will create “vibrant new spaces in which community members can gather.” Though the agency doesn’t give a finishing date, it says construction will commence “soon,” writing:

While many of the improvements won’t be easily visible, as they will be located under freshly laid brick and pavement, area residents will surely take note of the new materials, planters, lighting and other amenities that will turn these utilitarian passageways into inspiring and enlivening elements of the city. In fact, this past year, we were able to catch a preview of things to come as Nord Alley played host to several World Cup viewing parties. As you can see below, these parties were quite the hit. We can only imagine the possibilities for these spaces after renovations are complete!

Here’s a photo from one of those soccer events, proving yet again that Seattleites above all others love their alleys:

SDOT

But that alley still looks rough around the edges. Let’s move to the transportation department’s bright, shining future, as depicted in these renderings. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to pick up their things and immediately move into these wonderful places?

Canton Alley
Nord Alley (SvR Design/Olson Kundig Architects)
Pioneer Passage (SvR Design/Olson Kundig Architects)

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.