Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC recently completed the Museum of Chinese in America in Manhattan, NY.

“The Museum of Chinese in America’s (MOCA) new 12,500 square foot space spans the block between Centre and Lafayette Streets between Howard and Grand Streets. It is uniquely situated in lower Manhattan, bridging the cultural divide between traditional Chinatown and the new contemporary art worlds of Soho and Nolita. MOCA’s new home symbolizes institutional growth from its roots as the local Chinatown History Project to its expanding identity as the country’s preeminent National Chinese American history museum.
The dual street frontage of the new space affords MOCA a unique opportunity to create two distinct access points, or “windows” to the museum. The main entrance is located on Centre Street, with a new façade of wood, concrete and bronze that will offer an elegant and stunningly beautiful street face.
The permanent exhibition circles around an existing inner courtyard left deliberately untouched, creating a tension between old and new and revealing a chronological history of Chinese Americans from the 1800’s to the present day. There are six openings into the courtyard in which are projected different stories and faces of Chinese immigrants – giving viewers a full glimpse of the changing faces of Chinese immigration through time as they descend to the lower level.
A second entrance on Lafayette Street reveals a different yet equally engaging facet of MOCA’s identity. This frontage opens up into a studio space designed to support MOCA’s range of programs, including films, readings, performances, workshops, educational presentations, and oral history projects. This space leads down to the lower level offices and auditorium space.”

I am impressed by Lin’s intuitiveness in this and all of her projects. Living in Chinatown myself for some time, working with the people there, I feel like her interpretation of them and their legacy is both sensitive and progressive.


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