contextual researcH

Seattle's Chinatown/International District


Good design requires a strong understanding of context. Understanding context requires research.

One of my largest research studies was during a 1.5 year thesis at the University of Cincinnati.  My intent was to explore cultural identity in urban immigrant enclaves and to explore architecture's role in those communities. I focused my research on the Seattle Chinatown/International District (C-ID) community. 

My research was funded by the American Association for University Women (AAUW) Selected Professions Fellowship and was recognized with a design research award by the University of Cincinnati. This work was done solely by myself with the guidance of a thesis research chair. 


Research Methods and Outcomes: 

  • Historical research and Mapping 
  • Site Analysis and Mapping
  • Field Studies and Stakeholder Interviews
  • User Analysis and Spatial Mapping

How can architecture support a contemporary Chinese-American identity? 

How can architecture provide a cultural catalyst for public engagement within a historic Chinatown? 

What elements are important for cultivating identity? 

Historical Research and Mapping

Extensive historical research was done on Chinese immigration and it's influence on the growth of ethnic enclaves in the United States.

Part of the research included field interviews with community members and stakeholders in the C-ID neighborhood. More of the interview documentation is captured in my thesis blog here

I conveyed this research through visual mapping on the history of Chinese immigration within the United States and within C-ID. 


I mapped out existing community spaces and areas of opportunity for community improvements in a deeper site analysis. 

User analysis and spatial mapping

After understanding the history and site of Seattle's C-ID, I mapped out the types of users that would interact with the community and different typologies of space that exist. 

design recommendations

Want to see the final proposed designs? I recommend checking out the documentation below: