Green alley design and development

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If you want to turn your alley into a green alley, use our experience to help guide you.

  1. Team up. We started with at least 2 businesses (Green Garage and Motor City Brewing Works) on the alley wanting to work together to transform the alley, and we eventually sought out all other neighbors to explain the idea and seek their cooperation.
  2. Learn about the natural systems currently affecting the alley. We began by observing where the sun fell on the alley throughout the day and throughout the year, where the rain went, what type of winds the alley dealt with, and how other buildings affected these elements.
    1. We studied yearly precipitation charts for Detroit.
    2. We made a video recording of how water flowed in the alley after a rainstorm.
    3. We took photos of the alley at different times of the day and throughout the seasons to see how the sun fell.
    4. We observed and charted wind tunnels in the alley.
    5. We observed and took note of any plants that grew naturally in the alley.
    6. We observed the alley at night.
  3. Do research.
    1. Study what other communities have done with their alleys (see our background research page)
    2. Look at materials, how you'll be dealing with your garbage and recycling, how you'll be lighting the alley, and how you want to keep it pedestrian-friendly (we did research on bollards.
  4. Determine what 'green' features are important to your project (see our page sustainable design features.
  5. Make sure you bring in the City Engineering Department of the City of Detroit early on. They are responsible for alley construction and deconstruction, so they will need to approve of your plans.
    1. You will be asked whether or not you want to privatize the alley or keep it public. We chose to keep it public.
  6. Hire good designers and architects who understand your perspective. We hired Woody Melcher of Woodbury and Associates to draw up a sketch of the alley, and Mike McCleer did the architectural drawings.