Last fall the Plaza Midwood Merchants Association approached Associate Professor of Urban Design Nadia Anderson and asked whether the School of Architecture’s City.Building.Lab, a research arm of the SoA, would propose solutions for the Gordon Street alley, a dingy strip that lies between the Sherwin-Williams paint store and Snug Harbor music venue in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood. The new design would need to make the alley safe and functional for pedestrians and, in keeping with the Plaza Midwood aesthetic, funky. Anderson and four graduate research assistants, Jacob Huffman (urban design/geography), Amir Vafa (architecture), Tarah Weston (architecture), and Blake Wetherington (urban design/architecture), accepted the challenge, envisioning colorful murals, a brick walkway, and festive strings of lanterns. With a recently awarded placemaking grant from the City of Charlotte, the neighborhood will be able to implement the design. Construction starts this spring.