Party in the Passageways

You will never look at an urban alley the same way again.

Five teams of artists unveiled their art and technology installations in four downtown Chattanooga alleyways last month at “Party in the Passageways,” an event showcasing the newly transformed urban spaces with local arts performances and cuisine.

“This feels like a new Chattanooga. To be honest, I haven’t been this excited about downtown in a long time,” said Orchard Village resident, Emily Hansma. “I think they’re really onto something great.”

The five exhibits, located in four blocks between W 5th Street and W 7th Street, transform each alley into an artistic space to be enjoyed by locals, seen by tourists, and used for events.

River City Company and American Institute of Architects Tennessee (AIA TN) collaborated to host the August 24 gathering.  With over 500 attendees, the event was the culmination of “Passageways: Activating the Urban Alley through Architecture,” a three-month-long design competition.

A design jury of five acclaimed architects from around the country distilled over 70 entries into 24 semi-finalists.  Several local artists and community leaders then selected the five finalists after evaluating detailed reports from the semi-finalists.

“Stargaze” by Brooklyn art collective HEAVY, located at 715 Market Street, is a system of interconnected light beacons suspended above the alley, mimicking the Chattanooga night sky.

Chattanooga-based Team GFB created “Garden Grass [Inversions],” a thick cluster of locally sourced bamboo suspended above the alley at 730 Cherry Street.

“Stage Genesis,” also located at 715 Market Street, is an interactive soundscape installation by Chattanooga-based Team 120 and Studio Mindstride that responds to visitors’ movements with music.

“Neural Alley” is a pixelated mural of colorful blocks on both sides of the alley at 721 Broad Street and is both interactive and digital. This installation “represents the interplay of analog and digital processes that support a collective narrative.”

The fifth installation, at 709 Cherry Street, is “Urban Chandelier” by Australian duo Office Feuerman. This piece features 6,000 suspended reflective styrene triangles that respond to wind, natural light, and custom-made digital projections to create visible light patterns.

Finalists began the installation process a week before the pieces were unveiled on August 24. Locals snapped photos throughout the week and even joined in the fun when New York City collective Revenge of the Electric Woman invited volunteers to help paint blocks for Neural Alley.

Party in the Passageways included food and beer by local vendors, live bluegrass music by local icons Randy Steele and Friends, and special activities in each alleyway. Among the festivities were performances by the Chattanooga Ballet, a yarn bombing project hosted by the Chattanooga Public Library, opportunities to ride Art 120’s bikes, and performances by local buskers.

Community events will be held in the newly transformed alleyways, which will be in place for the next six to twelve months. Check out for more information.