Introducing – 20ft WIDE – a collaborative case study in creating temporary activations for downtown alleys.
20ft WIDE: activating alley #111 on 9th between Congress and Brazos
April 17th to April 21st
A case study in transforming a downtown alley into a vibrant public open space—the activation includes a mix of installations and multi-generational happenings connecting us with the dynamic past, present and future roles of Austin’s urban alley system.
20ft Wide derives its name from the 20 feet that serve as the standard width for Austin’s downtown alleys as noted on the 1839 city map by Edwin Waller.
Schedule of Events Overview
Scroll down the page for details….
Opening Party – 7pm to 10pm (scroll down for details)
Pecha Kucha Night - 7:30pm doors/8:20pm presentations
Movability Austin’s Commuter Pop-Up Breakfast – 8am to 10am
Alley Kids Family Day – 10am to 3pm
Alley on your own…
Austin’s downtown alleys remain largely unnoticed. Yet, these public spaces are in danger of being removed by super-block developments, which will alter the character and scale of the city fabric. 20ft Wide seeks to bring awareness and appreciation to this urban space, to foster discussion about the role of the alley in the city, while simultaneously generating new possibilities for its use.
Active with service functions and vehicular deliveries, the alley must be envisioned as a new kind of public space – something temporary, dramatic, multi-use, and pop-up. Our intention for 20ft Wide is two-fold. First, is to underline the features of the alley, to elevate its presence and expose its utilitarian beauty. Second, is to transform the experience of the space. The installation creates a backdrop or context for new public activities to occur in this space in-between.
The design approach is simple yet dramatic. Inspired by a child’s craft, colored twine knits the architectural elements of the alley, creating a sculpture of floating planes that soar above and extend out of the alley. These layers reshape the alley and provide an ever-changing perspective as one moves through the space. Integrated into these geometric forms, hundreds of paper origami cranes, created by local children, spring from a single fire stair, take flight, and spread into a natural formation as they head toward the sky. Together, these elements set the stage for the activities and people that will give this public space new life.
Dan Cheetham (Fyoog):
Dan is an architect with over 25 years of experience. He has worked globally on architecture and planning projects focused in the public realm. He was born to a family of classical musicians and was awarded a scholarship to music school. It was then that he discovered a passion for architecture and the connection between the built environment and the arts. For him, architecture is a way to engage people within the creative process. Dan is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Architecture, Magna Cum Laude.
For over two decades, Dan led world-class projects and teams in New York, London, San Francisco, and Shanghai, most recently as partner at Steinberg Architects and SMWM in San Francisco where he was a Design Director. Dan brings this experience to his new company FYOOG.
Fyoog (www.fyoog.com) is an Architecture, Planning, and Design firm borne out of his love for music, passion for fine arts, and his unique vision of their application to the built environment. He seeks to compose rich architectural compositions that incorporate other art forms and frequently collaborates with other artists, designers, and creative minds. Dan’s work takes many forms including large urban planning projects, commercial and institutional repositioning, historic and adaptive reuse, educational environments, as well as small sculptures, outdoor spaces, and temporary installations.
Dan is a licensed architect in California and Texas and a LEED AP NC+B.
Michelle Tarsney is an architect with an enthusiasm for public space, in particular, the shifting and overlapping boundaries between public and private space. 20ft Wide is an exciting opportunity to activate and bring awareness to the alley, through the transformation of this private, public space.
Michelle has worked as an architect with Kao Design Group in Somerville, MA and SMWM in San Francisco, CA. Her architectural experience ranges from residential, resort, and academic institutions to planning in the United States, the British Virgin Islands, and Europe. She has also worked as an information architect and graphic designer for Fortune 500 companies and start-ups across industries.
Michelle received a Master of Architecture degree from Harvard University, where she was awarded the Julia Amory Appleton Traveling Fellowship for research in the Middle East. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History with Distinction from Boston University, Summa Cum Laude. She is a registered Architect in the State of California and LEED Green Associate.
1,000 PEACE CRANES: By Creative Action
Engaging the public through their after school programs and at Art City Austin, Creative Action teaching artists and young people across Austin, hand-folded 100s of origami paper cranes to be incorporated into the overhead sculptural installation seen in Alley #111. 1000 Paper Cranes is drawn from the ancient Japanese legend where anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish. Here in Austin, we invite the public to share their wishes for a peaceful future through making their own origami peace crane.
About Creative Action: The mission of Creative Action is to spark and support the academic, social and emotional development of young people. Through interactive classroom performances, after school arts residencies and community-based programs, Creative Action’s professional teaching artists inspire youth to be creative artists, courageous allies, critical thinkers, and confident leaders in their community.
For more info on Creative Action visit their website: creativeaction.org
find all 4 sound pieces on our soundcloud page
SOUND DESIGN By Steve Parker in partnership with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
In collaboration with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, performer, educator and arts collaborator, Steve Parker has created a soundscape that uses an array of Central Texas bird calls that are both nocturnal and diurnal.
Based in Austin, Steve Parker is active as a performer, educator, and arts collaborator. He is presently on faculty at The University of Texas at San Antonio and is Artist-In-Residence at the Blanton Museum of Art and the Asian Arts Initiative in Philadelphia. He previously worked as a J. William Fulbright Scholar in Germany and a Donald D. Harrington Fellow at The University of Texas at Austin.
As a soloist, Steve has performed in the US, Europe, Asia, and South America, with performances at the Spoleto Festival, futureplaces (Portugal), Santa Fe New Music, Bowerbird (Philadelphia), Roulette (NYC), BACKFABRIK (Berlin), HPR’s From the Front Row (Houston), and the Gene Siskel Film Center (Chicago).An advocate of new music, Steve has commissioned or premiered over 100 new works, working with composers Helmut Lachenmann, Corey Dargel, Michael Gordon, Julia Wolfe, and David Lang. He is an artist of Ensemble Signal, described as “a new music dream team” (TONY), with appearances at Tanglewood, the Guggenhem Museum, Le Poisson Rouge, and the Bang on a Can Marathon. His performances can be heard on NPR’s Performance Today, PBS Newshour, and on Bridge, Cantaloupe and Mode Records.
In the orchestral realm, he has performed with the Malaysian Philharmonic, Jacksonville Symphony, Sarasota Opera, Artosphere Festival Orchestra, and New World Symphony, with fellowships at the Lucerne Festival with Pierre Boulez and Ensemble InterContemporain, Music Academy of the West, and the National Repertory Orchestra.
Winner of the 2012 Austin Critics’ Table Award, Steve is the founder and director of SoundSpace at the Blanton Museum of Art. SoundSpace is a concert series that features simultaneous, cross-disciplinary performances throughout the museum’s galleries.
Steve holds degrees from UT Austin, Rice, and Oberlin in Mathematics and Music.
SPATIAL DESIGN By TBG’s Chris Jackson and Nicole Warns:
Nestled between historic limestone walls and suspended fire escapes, the utilitarian alley will be temporarily transformed into a comfortable, pop-up experience. Contradicting the stereotype associated with alleys, the initiative will encourage and support a variety of uses including, but not limited to, yoga, coffee house (wi-fi), live music, yard games, mini-library, outdoor dining, idea generation and presentation, etc. Using elements synonymous with service, function, and even waste found in a typical alley, the design morphs these features into shapes and textures that encourage social interaction. For example, stacked pallets as staging, seating, and planters, polystyrene foam as steps, seating and display, and burlap bags stuffed with donated clothing as cushions. All of these elements will encourage a life cycle and re-use of materials in nonconventional ways. Finally, “pop-up” vegetation will be utilized as a symbol of nature’s perseverance and regenerative ability, even in the most impervious and harsh urban places. This composition will display the opportunities and potential for one of the most neglected public environments of our cityscape.
Chris Jackson has been a member of TBG Partners’ Austin office since 2007, showcasing his exceptional design and planning abilities on diverse projects during that time. Jackson initially focused on large-scale planning projects during his early years with TBG, gaining a solid planning foundation, and he now works primarily on urban redevelopment efforts. Through his work and involvement with professional organizations like the Urban Land Institute (ULI), Jackson has established strong working relationships with many local civic entities and has helped facilitate urban renewal on prominent projects like the Seaholm Power Plant redevelopment and work with Foundation Communities. A Pennsylvania native, Jackson received his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture with an emphasis in urban and environmental economics from Penn State University in 2007, and he is a LEED Accredited Professional and Registered Landscape Architect in Texas. In addition to being active with ULI’s Young Leaders program, in his spare time Jackson enjoys cycling, wakeboarding and other outdoor activities.
Nicole Warns joined the Austin office of TBG Partners in March 2012 after spending nearly 10 years working for an internationally recognized design and planning firm in Florida. Her experience includes a number of prominent urban design, waterfront, resort and mixed-use projects, and she has worked throughout the world, including living and working for a year in Beijing. In Austin she has worked with many municipal and civic entities on large-scale urban renewals as well as community-based transformations like the 20ft Wide alley project. Nicole received her Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from Oklahoma State University in 2003, and she is involved with many professional organizations including Urban Land Institute and the Congress for the New Urbanism.
BIRD SILHOUETTES: Designed and Painted by Griffon Ramsey with Assistance by Burl Norville
Griffon Ramsey is a visual artist, committed to the creative transformation of space with the use of everyday materials; paper, paint, wood, fabric and found objects. Beginning her career in theatrical design, she learned to make highly artistic creations with often limited resources. Recently she designed and helped coordinate the installation of new playground markings at all of the elementary schools in the Austin Independent School District. Not only do the markings promote “active” learning by engaging the children physically, socially and mentally during free time, they have also been incorporated as an outdoor classroom tool.
Griffon believes that art not only decorates, it impacts our lives. We are influenced by our surroundings. Inspired by street artists, folk artists, wood carvers, tinkerers, and in general, the self-taught, her work comes from a compulsive need to rearrange her environment and manifest the reality she would like to see. Her overall goal is to collaborate with others synergistically to create larger realities with positive, public-oriented purposes.
Burl Norville is a local artist who lost his hearing a decade ago, and has since been working to use visual art as his creative outlet to replace his former preference and self-proclaimed obsession – Music. Art and drawing has always been a part of his life, and he is thankful to have it as an outlet.
Schedule of events – details:
Opening party: April 17th from 7 -10p
In partnership with Nelson Partners. Opening night coincides with the opening of the Fusebox Festival which will find itself processioning to alley way #111 accompanied by a vocal performance by Convergence (scroll down for details).
Pecha Kucha Night: April 18th, 7:30pm doors/8:20pm presentations
PechaKucha #17 is coming to the alley! Lineup to be announced soon – please check here for updates and information about past PechaKucha Nights.
Movability Austin’s Commuter Pop-Up Breakfast in partnership with ZipCar: April 19th, 8am – 10am
Make plans to attend as commuters of all stripes will descend onto one of Downtown’s alleyways for a well-deserved breakfast and coffee break.
Alley Kids Family Day: April 20th, 10am – 3pm
Austin families are invited to explore the transformation of Alley #111 into an artist-driven playground for kids and adults. CLICK HERE FOR ALL THE FAMILY DAY DETAILS!
Alley on your own: April 21st, ALL DAY
Sunday is your day to enjoy the alley for what it is – experience the alleyway as a work of art, a respite space on a Sunday … something other than a traditional alley way.
OPENING PARTY DETAILS:
Convergence, led by artistic director Cameron Beauchamp, is an Austin-based ‘new music’ ensemble dedicated to inter-arts collaboration with an ever-expanding roster of artists. Convergence performs commissioned works and music from the last 50 years. They have appeared in New York, Boston, Austin, and have been the artist in residence for the University of Oregon’s “Music Today” festival. This season, Convergence collaborated with the Austin New Music Co-op, performed on the Blanton Museum’s Soundspace series, and performed a set on the Fast Forward Austin Festival of re-imagined popular songs for voices, electric guitars, and percussion commissioned by 7 composers from across the US.
The’ll be performing songs by Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, Sarah Kirkland-Snider, as well as an improvisation based on environment/prescribed tones. Their approach to this performance has been crafted to reflect the installation and the space, primarily its urban feel.
Thank you to the Austin Critics’ Table for the Best Independent Project nomination.