Alphabet City | About


Help Build a Better World

Alphabet City's (AbC) purpose is to help build a better world by presenting innovative perspectives on the most significant issues shaping urban life today, through publications, events, and festivals.



The Alphabet City series challenges us to rethink ideas central to our lives. In each volume writers and artists address a single theme from many perspectives, revealing its processes and possibilities. Alphabet City is co-published with The MIT Press and appears each October accompanied by an arts and ideas festival in Toronto.

In Development

  • 2013 CHINA
  • 2012 SCHOOL
  • 2011 SPORTS
  • 2010 AIR


  • 2009 WATER
  • 2008 FUEL
  • 2007 FOOD
  • 2006 TRASH
  • 2005 SUSPECT
  • 2004 SUBTITLES

Who is behind Alphabet City

John Knechtel (director)

John Knechtel founded Alphabet City in 1991. In 1994 he was tagged by Vanity Fair– "Ignore these editors at your peril" – as a leader of the avant-garde in a piece celebrating the editors of North America's coolest small magazines. In 2002 Knechtel created NEXT MEMORY CITY, Canada's official entry in the Venice International Architecture Biennale, with artists Michael Awad, Eve Egoyan, and David Rokeby. The show won press acclaim for its innovative interdisciplinary research into the future of the wired city. Canadian Architect called it an "intellectual and experiential landmark" of the Biennale, and OBJEKT Magazine of the Netherlands declared the exhibit "An architectural tour-de-force." In 2006, Knechtel was awarded the Ontario Arts Council's Chalmers Arts Fellowship. In 2009 he was invited to speak at the Dutch interdisciplinary urban research centre Stroom den Haag.