Below is the 2D map design for my alley, some screenshots of the current mockup in UDK, and some shots showing the fixes I've made so far.
Although my proposal for the alley didn't get selected, the winning proposal was so similar to mine that I pretty much got to make the map that I would have anyway. So yay for that.
The biggest issue the instructors had in critique was over that big circular ditch in the middle of the map. It is technically based off of an actual structure seen in ancient cliff dwellings, called Kivas, which functioned as sort of community centers slash religious buildings. Thing is, I didn't actually know what they were called or what they were for until after I'd built the map, I was just basing it off of pictures of big circular ditches in the ground, so the "kiva" in my map is totally empty on the inside, and doesn't seem to be serving any purpose. Next step from here is to do some more research, then I can deck out the inside with some structures that should make it actually look like what it's supposed to be. Hopefully then it'll seem more appropriate in the space, and more interesting to look at and move around in as well.
cataloging some of the revisions I made.
I think I'm just going to get rid of this ledge. I thought it would be neat to have a small "hidden" area off to the side, but it's more trouble than it's worth. It's still too easy to die, and there's nothing there, so it's not very interesting. Plus, this is meant to be more about environment art than making a playable level, and if this area is hidden, then no-one's going to see it.
Even with the wider alleys and better light, I've observed that some people still don't actually see the ramp. They never go up that way, and they don't get to climb on the buildings, which I think is the coolest part of my map. My hope right now is that I can use lights and props to draw attention to that space when I'm set dressing the level, but I may have to widen the alley even more regardless, or find some other way to draw people to it.