Chinatown Circle


School of Visual Arts - 2016
Design in Public Spaces
Role: Architectural design, research

Chinatown Circle 

A design challenge

Working with the NYC Department of Transportation and the NYC Chinatown Partnership, the Chinatown Circle is a proposal for a new gateway to the largest Chinatown in the USA.

The challenge called for a solution that addresses the following:

  1. Improving the public space of the proposed site.
  2. Enhancing way-finding.
  3. Engaging the community.
  4. Reinvigorating Chinatown's tourism.
  5. Spurring economic development.


                           The current kiosk or gateway to chinatown is tiny, underutilized, and is usually unattended. 

                           The current kiosk or gateway to chinatown is tiny, underutilized, and is usually unattended. 



Over the course of our research, we conducted five field visits to Chinatown in order to gain an understanding of the neighborhood, examine the current kiosk, and to visit other existing landmarks. While we were there we spoke with tourists, first and second generation residents, and business owners.

Key insights

As a result of our research, we identified four key insights:

  1. Chinatown needs an easily identifiable, unique landmark. 
  2. The community desires a symbol of hope and change.
  3. There is a disconnect between generations.
  4. Chinatown is experiencing a sluggish economy.

When considering a solution, we asked ourselves: 

How might we reimagine the current kiosk as a symbolic entrance to Chinatown in a way that is meaningful while encouraging more tourism?

As a part of our research, we also explored other Manhattan neighborhoods and took note of the popular landmarks and tourist attractions.  We were curious about how these attractions helped to create an identity and a sense of place unique to a location. 



Our project goals 


Create an iconic structure

Screen Shot 2017-04-21 at 7.59.04 PM.png

Symbol of hope and change
Connect generations
Spur tourism


Design principles

The Circle   

The circle is a symbol of oneness, fulfillment, unity, and connection. We wanted to express this in a bold, iconic gesture that could be easily visible from the local subway entrance.  


Design features   

We envision a design that could be utilized as a communal gathering space. It's meant to function as a pedestrian collection and distribution point for the greater neighborhood.  

By slightly lowering the ground plane and using partitioning architectural elements, the design strives to create a refuge from the busy canal street thoroughfare, which serves as the main traffic artery across manhattan.   The immediate adjacency (to canal street) currently makes the site undesirable. 


The dramatic but minimal geometry can be distinctly discerned form the surrounding landscape and it aims to captivate street goers just from scale alone


The sculpture itself features an integrated digital interface. 
Content can be featured from a variety of sources (like near by attractions and institutions) and displayed in a variety of formats offering a rich multimedia experience.