Phoenix Urban Designer and Team Recognized for Innovative Proposal to Resuscitate Alleys as Valuable Public Spaces / by Tiffany Halperin

Tiffany Halperin of The Urban Culture Design Project Teams Up with Thinking Caps Design to Place Second in AIA Arizona This is Phoenix Competition

Phoenix, AZ (January 4, 2016) – Phoenix urban designer and landscape architect Tiffany Halperin and her project team have been awarded second place in the This is Phoenix 2016 design competition hosted by the Arizona component of the American Institute of Architects. Halperin and her office teamed up with graphic design firm Thinking Caps Design for the contest entry, which proposed that all alleys in the city of Phoenix be repurposed as pedestrian and bicycle corridors. The entry was branded “Alley Over” to represent the notion that the city’s alley network needs a re-visioning or a do-over.

Halperin had the idea for the “Alley Over” concept after the city began to transition garbage pickup and other services for houses in her Phoenix neighborhood from alleys to the street front. The alleys were no longer being used for their original purpose, and in some neighborhoods they were abandoned altogether. The city is now even talking about closing the alleys completely to combat illegal dumping and transient activity. But where some people see a problem, Halperin sees possibility: alleys as assets and, in this case, pathways. Pedestrian routes are limited in Phoenix, and alleys are the perfect option for dedicated pedestrian and bicycle corridors. 

“Don’t get rid of alleys; activate them,” she said. “If the alleys are closed or sold to a private property owner, the city will never get that alley back.”

Halperin points to other cities that have repurposed their alleys: Seattle, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. She thinks it could work in Phoenix, too. 

“Alleys are important public spaces that can be valuable assets,” Halperin said. “They have the potential to be reinvented over time as we need them. We needed them for services, and now we need them for pedestrian corridors.”

Halperin and the competition team plan to meet with public officials in Phoenix and the greater metro area to promote the idea of alleys as valuable public spaces. In early November, a city subcommittee in Phoenix approved a one-year pilot program to allow alley activation within downtown. Halperin hopes that pilot program is just the beginning to wide acknowledgement that alleys are public assets, as she sees great potential for widespread alley revitalization in residential and commercial areas. Business owners in commercial areas will benefit from the additional foot traffic and entry points that alley walkways will create, and residential alleyways will connect neighbors, parks, coffee shops and other local amenities.

For more information about how alleys are assets, contact Halperin at 602-717-0702 or