Surface 678 - Porthole Alley

UNC Chapel Hill

Porthole Alley, a popular pedestrian entry to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, opens into the arts quadrant of the academic campus with little to no fanfare. Named for a former restaurant, the alley is just off Franklin Street, a heavily-used retail and restaurant corridor through town.

Surface 678 is designing enhancements that create an appropriate connection between campus and downtown Chapel Hill. The project includes increasing safety for pedestrians, bikes, and vehicles, accessible pathways, lighting, signage, and paving materials. The design and materials must give recognition to the historic character of the area.

The project responds to many campus influences and multiple pedestrian connections. At Columbia Street, the design is contextual in its response to walkway and wall systems, extending existing treatments south. The eastern side anchors a new quadrangle that is loosely framed by a strong north-south walkway through Porthole Alley to Franklin Street. This access is designed to function well as a scaled pedestrian walkway and as a service route for parking, deliveries and fire vehicles. The Arts Walkway is a tree-lined pedestrian boulevard that will deliver visitors to the heart of the Arts Common District. The site also allows car, service and fire access.

Surface designers have coordinated the plan with Porthole Alley neighbors including the Town of Chapel Hill, adjacent private businesses, the Methodist Church, and University Departments that are housed nearby.