Context Analysis – Garfield Alley

This site is an alley behind an abandoned commercial building in Garfield.  Garfield is a diverse neighborhood in Pittsburgh with a tremendous amount of strengths and challenges.  The site strikes an intriguing ambiguity between public and private space.


Physical attributes 

-Large building on one side

-Garage doors every 20 feet or so

-More garage doors on other side

-Division between commercial and residential

-Over growth (shrubs)

-Over growth (vines)

-Brief  moments of color amongst grey facade

-Many pot holes

-Boarded up windows

-Chain link fence

-Commercial lighting

-utility meters

-traffic bollards

-emergency egress infrastructure

-decaying organic materials (leaves)


-glass block windows

-drain pipes

-garbage bags

-large puddles

-abundant loose gravel


-lawn furniture



Social Attributes


-People Walking Together

-People Leaving Work

-People Parking

-Neighbors sitting

-Open space used by children to play

-Children meeting each other after school

-Place to draw

-Place to intersect life and work

-Provides a little known shortcut

-Private Space that still sees a lot of foot traffic
-Sense of surprise when other people are encountered

-Many windows looking at the same scenery, but not each other

-Residences are fenced off and shielded

-Occupants are Primarily Young

-Occupants are primarily in pairs or groups

-All local foot traffic

-Little eye contact

-conversation levels drop compared to main street

-ambiguous as to whether it is private or public space

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