Up(ing) Your Alley 

Chicago Architectural Club
2020 Burnham Prize Competition Honorable Mention

Chicago is home to 1,900 linear miles of alleyways. Up(ing) Your Alley is a vision for the city which unlocks their potential. The primary existing function of these alleyways is to provide vehicular access to garages and waste collection. We propose to expand on these mono-functional passageways, by reimagining them into a diverse panorama of expanded uses, from affordable housing options to recreational spaces.
Currently, Chicago is greatly segregated, and this model brings a greater level of equity to the city by embracing new financial models of land ownership. By maximizing the functionality of the alleyway, we imagine a future in which people of different socio-economic backgrounds can own property in the same neighborhoods.
We see the alleyway as having the potential to become another street typology in Chicago, building upon Burnham’s vision for the city. Instead of the singularity of the linear street, we propose a through-block approach, which claims vacant greenfields and underutilized garages as a part of its greater network. By not competing with the existing functionality of the street, the alley becomes an alternative, human-focused approach to building a resilient city.
Up(ing) Your Alley builds upon current legislation in the city, which proposes to bring back Accessory Dwelling Units. Historically, the criticism has been that this brings too much density. While our proposal does aim to increase density, it equally introduces a multitude of accessible public spaces. We assert that not only will this project offset gentrification, but it will also give greater autonomy to residents and their communities.
Published in: Metropolis Magazine, “Novel Architecture in the Age of the Novel Coronavirus.”
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