The Wing Luke Asian Museum, in Seattle’s Chinatown International District, provides space for community meetings and events, public space for the neighborhood, theatre space for performances and presentations, exhibit spaces for community art and emerging Asian Pacific American artists, family-centered learning environments and leadership development for neighborhood youth. The design grew out of the original, 1910 multi-story building that served as a social center and living quarters for Chinese, Japanese and Filipino immigrants. Drawing inspiration from the building’s rich history, we saved as much of the original building as possible. In addition to building materials – such as timbers cut out between floors – the character and scale of the building were maintained. On the upper floors, original narrow doorways and corridors and small rooms preserve the intimacy of the original space, and are a venue for the museum’s immersion exhibits.
Re-use and recycling play an important role in the building’s sustainable strategies. Windows and doors were repaired and reinstalled, fir joists were recycled as stair treads, and fire doors and other no longer “functional” objects served as inspiration for furniture and works of art. Operable windows and two-story lightwells encourage natural air flow, while transparency between adjacent spaces and floors allow daylight to filter down to the main entry level.