Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

AlleyHop! Columbia Heights with EL Studio

November 11, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Join us on Thursday, November 11th from 2:00-4:00pm for an interactive self-guided tour of some of Columbia Height’s most intriguing alleys!

DC’s alley system arose as a shadow network, facilitating the collection of trash, the distribution of utilities, and the storage of modes of transportation. This event, the fifth of EL Studio’s alley tours and second in partnership with DCPL, traces the unseen forces that govern the development of alleys & alley buildings in Columbia Heights. These ‘shadow constraints’ include zoning setbacks and height limits, use restrictions, utility access, requirements for stormwater management and parking, as well as the ebb and flow of demographic groups and industries over time.

Our home base is a future alley dwelling on the alley between Girard St and Fairmont St, just west of Sherman Ave NW. Using temporary wayfinding graphics, EL Studio will curate a walkable path between three alleys selected for their unique physical conditions. Alley Hoppers will be equipped with maps and View-Master reels loaded with imagery highlighting ‘shadow constraints’ and demonstrating potential future architectural and infrastructural interventions. Then return to home base, enjoy refreshments, and share your feedback on EL Studio’s Washington Alley Project.

Self-guided tours will depart from the 775 Fairmont St NW (alley between Girard St NW & Fairmount St NW, accessed off Sherman Ave NW) meeting point every 15-20 minutes during the event. This is a drop in and out even, so you may arrive between 2:00-3:30pm to begin a self-guided tour.


This event is free and open to the public. 

The safety of our guests is of the utmost importance to us and for this reason, DCPL is requiring that all participants for its in-person events be fully vaccinated. Proof of vaccination will be required upon arrival at the event. Vaccination card or picture of card will be accepted. Masks are also required for this event, regardless of vaccination status.


WAP: the Washington Alley Project – Research, Urban Design and Public Space Advocacy: This project by EL Studio examines DC’s informal alley network as a viable site for new modes of urban living, presenting the city with an opportunity to adapt to future social and technological change without sacrificing the city’s unique architectural heritage.

EL Studio PLLC is an award-winning architecture and design firm dedicated to the practice of experimentation, collaboration, and advocacy. We specialize in innovative design within challenging constraints. We eagerly take on complex problems and, through research and testing, strive to rethink standard uses of techniques and materials. We collaborate with design partners to develop resolutions unique to the problems and potential posed in each project. We are our client’s advocates, developing expertise in the full range of their current and future needs. We advocate for equitable and sustainable design at every scale whether in the public or private realm. Not satisfied with the purely theoretical, EL builds what we draw, realizing our designs as finely-crafted spaces that feel good to be in.

Elizabeth Emerson’s architectural interests spring from the social and cultural. A native of the Washington DC area, Elizabeth’s research in design has engaged issues of social and environmental sustainability, individual and collective identity, and privatization. She has taught at several institutions, most recently in the graduate Urban Practice concentration at Catholic University School of Architecture and Planning.

Mark Lawrence’s architectural interests stem from the place where he lives and works. The alley-based studio in Washington DC serves as a testbed for researching a variety of scales from questioning urban infrastructural issues to materiality and detail. Mark works to expand the education and action of architecture to underserved areas in the Washington region.


November “Rowhouses and Alleys” programs are generously sponsored by Betsy McDaniel, a resident of Bloomingdale and a longtime DCPL supporter. 


November 11, 2021
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm


775 Fairmont St NW
775 Fairmont St NW
Washington, DC 20001
+ Google Map