Kwong Von Glinow Design Office was one of the many teams who took part in the Gateways to Chinatown competition (the winners are still yet to be announced). Co-launched by the New York City Department of Transportation, the Chinatown Partnership, and Van Alen Institute, the competition sought the best design proposal for a new neighborhood landmark along Canal Street. Located between Manhattan's Chinatown and the southern entrance to Little Italy’s Mott Street, Canal Street is one of New York City's busiest thoroughfares.
Kwong Von Glinow shared their competition entry (which didn't win) with Bustler. Check it out below.
“Manhattan’s Chinatown is alone among the major Chinese enclaves in the United States not to have a proper gateway. Inspired by the Moon Gate’s duality as gateway and window, we are inspired to reimagine the Chinatown Gateway as a circular archway. Standing 48’ tall, this archway greets visitors to Chinatown to a unique circular form - the universal symbol of inclusion and harmony. Balancing respect for Chinese design heritage and serving an expanded role as a marker not just for Chinatown but Lower Manhattan at large, the Gateway captures the ever-changing streetscapes of Chinatown and its vicinity within its portal.
Labeled an ‘under-utilized area’ in the 1976 revitalization study, the Canal Street Triangle remains an island more than forty years later, whose unique geometry offers both challenges and opportunities for a new kind of gateway – one that is a tourist attraction, an urban icon, and most importantly, a place for the communities of Chinatown and its vicinity to gather and enjoy public space. The Chinatown Gateway’s design draws upon three core design principles:”
“Traditional yet Transformative: A staple of classical Chinese architecture, the Moon Gate captures lush garden landscapes within its circular frame. Inspired by the Moon Gate’s duality as gateway and window, we are inspired to reimagine the Chinatown Gateway as a circular archway. Standing 48’ tall, this archway greets visitors to Chinatown to a unique circular form - the universal symbol of inclusion and harmony. Balancing respect for Chinese design heritage and serving an expanded role as a marker not just for Chinatown but Lower Manhattan at large, the Gateway captures the ever-changing streetscapes of Chinatown and its vicinity within its portal.”
“Iconic yet Welcoming: The Gateway is monumental without sacrificing humanism: too often, “iconic” public spaces intimidate rather than accommodate. The Chinatown Gateway draws upon history to look to the future. It is a new urban icon that does not merely mark the entrance to Chinatown but stands as a unifying beacon for the entire neighborhood. Nestled within the Gateway is seating for 40, a performance space, and a garden containing the 5 Gingko trees currently on site. Bleacher seating on either side of the archway brings together a sheltered plaza for cultural events. Located in the garden of the Canal Street Triangle are two information totems that leverage the successful existing WalkNYC wayfinding system while providing a customized display on the flipside in English, Mandarin, and Cantonese for the local community.”
“Flexible and Efficient: Eschewing predetermined programming for flexibility, the Archway is future-proofed against obsolescence. Arrayed along its underside are hooks from which banners, lanterns, and other devices could be hung. This activates the Gateway throughout the year: from the Spring Lantern Festival to the Mid-Autumn Festival, and Christmas, allowing it to host a wide range of events and communicate these festivities on a larger urban scale. While simple, the Gateway is not low-tech: embedded on its outer surface is a cost-effective but crowd-pleasing interactive lighting system that responds to visitor’s motions via an app. The Archway thus becomes more than a gate to Chinatown but a destination unto itself. A modular system of construction reduces time and cost of construction. Prefabricated off-site in Brooklyn, 50 aluminum modules make up the Gateway, each a 8’x3’x’1’ “brick” that will be assembled into the full Gateway within two weeks.”
Status: Competition Entry
Location: Chinatown, NY, US
Additional Credits: Team: Kwong Von Glinow Design Office
Lap Chi Kwong
Alison Von Glinow
Chieh Chih Chiang
In collaboration with Justin Donnelly
With consultants: Patten Studio, Silman Structural Engineers
Images and project text courtesy of Kwong Von Glinow Design Office.
Find more project images in the gallery below. You can also check out Kwong Von Glinow's previous competition winning entries.
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