Urban Commons Lab

Reviving Canton Alley

Alley activation: Located in the Chinatown-International District, Canton Alley was once a bustling neighborhood space with residential apartments on the upper floors of adjacent buildings and small shops lining both sides of the alley. In 2009, efforts to reactivate the alley began with the re-envisioning of adjacent King Street through a studio project at the University of Washington. Following the visioning process, neighborhood partners identified Canton Alley as a pilot project and began pursuing funding for improvement. Unlike a typical planning and design project, neighborhood partners facilitated by IDEA Space began to activate the space through programmed events. Activities have included alley parties, mahjong, concerts, performances, outdoor art gallery, games, BBQ, pop-up shops. Through these ongoing events, new meanings and memories were created, and new connections to the alley were formed even before the design interventions were completed.

IDEA Space, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority (2010 to present). IDEA Space Staff/ Jamie Lee (manager), Ching Chan (design lab coordinator). Project Partners/ Chinatown Historic Alley Partnership, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, Wing Luke Asian Museum, Chong Wa Benevolent Association, Sun May Company, Fortuna Café, Seattle Office of Economic Development, International Sustainability Institute, Pioneer Square Alliance, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Washington. Funding Support/ City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (Neighborhood Matching Fund), City of Seattle Department of Transportation (City Infrastructure Grant), 4Culture (Heritage Grant), National Trust for Historic Preservation (Historic Preservation Grant), Washington State Department of Transportation (Transportation Alternative Program Fund). Design Team/ Nakano Associate, Framework Cultural Placemaking. (Images: IDEA Space–SCIDpda, Jeff Hou)