A community-led redesign of a public alley in Albany, NY.
Albany Hive is transforming a blighted public alley into a space designed with and for Albany’s West Hill neighborhood. Since 2021, we’ve built a coalition of community organizations, designers, city leaders, and residents to form a collective vision for the alley. To date, we’ve had 200+ conversations with residents and project partners, created a design and construction drawings, and completed initial cleanup and site prep work.
In 2024, we’ll install a public sculpture and pedestrian pathway that creates an uplifting communal space where residents can gather, relax, and play. Co-designed by West Hill residents, The Urban Conga, Stantec, and Rensselaer School of Architecture, the Hive reflects the alley’s function as a community hub, buzzing with locally-led activities. Six beehive-inspired sculptures in vibrant blue and yellow will include built-in seating elements and polycarbonate panels to host community-made artwork. They’ll be paired with new planters and swales to help absorb rainwater and a newly-built pedestrian path with improved lighting, access, and drainage. Our community partners and Rensselaer School of Architecture are also creating a long-term stewardship and maintenance plan, outlining the city and community’s continued collaboration in service of the alley.
Albany Hive (formerly Lucid Project: Albany) is a collaboration between 518 SNUG, Albany & Troy Lions Club, Albany Victory Gardens, Bridge Tha Gap, the City of Albany, Grateful Villages, Rensselaer School of Architecture, Stantec, The Urban Conga, and Van Alen Institute.
Why are we doing this work?
This city-owned alley sits within a residential block in West Hill, adjacent to Albany Victory Gardens — a community garden created by the local nonprofit Eden’s Rose Foundation — and a weekend farmers market operated by Grateful Villages. Despite the success of these nearby community-led programs, the alley itself has been left in poor condition, with inadequate drainage, an overgrown tree canopy that blocks light, and trash and debris.
The City of Albany owns several similar alleys, but these publicly-owned spaces are often left to residents to maintain. While wealthier neighborhoods have the time and money to manage them, lower-income neighborhoods like West Hill don’t have access to the same resources. The condition of these alleys is a direct reflection of inequity in the public realm.
Communities have the right to shape the places where they live, and we hope this project becomes a new model for how shared spaces are designed.
On September 24-25, we held a community engagement session and co-design workshop with design team The Urban Conga and our local partners.
We set up a table at the West Hill Farmers Market on October 17 and 24 to put forward some initial concepts and gather more ideas from the West Hill community. On October 27, we joined SNUG’s Kids Halloween Party at the Arbor Hill Community Center to share some design inspiration and gather more feedback.
We hosted a design review and selection with our community partners.
Jan 2022 – May 2023
We held inspiration workshops with our local partners and started site prep and fabrication.
Jun 2023 – Jun 2024
Site Cleanup and Installation
We’ll complete the site’s construction work and install our public art project!