Wing Luke Asian Museum / OSKA Architects

Architects: Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects
Location: , WA,
Principal in Charge: Rick Sundberg
Year: 2008
Photographs: Lara Swimmer

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.

Cite: "Wing Luke Asian Museum / OSKA Architects" 25 May 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 Oct 2014. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=22769>
  • Bo Lucky

    For architects involved in historic buildings I would suggest to consult a relevant Preservation Brief http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/tps/briefs/presbhom.htm or a conservation architect.

    The result of this refurbishment(?) would be better if brief 11: Rehabilitating Historic Storefronts would be applied.

  • Bo Lucky

    And… I have hard time to agree with the OSKA Architects statement that “the character and scale of the building were maintained”. The scale – yes, but character has been changed by removal (or not re-creating) of major character defining elements which include a gallery, top cornice, frieze over the first floor and a character of the storefront. These elements, if not existing, could be recreated in a simpler form in order to bring back a historic building character. A zigzag roof over the front entrance additionally detracts value from the building character.

  • michael

    I think Bo needs to get over his or her self. It’s nice to see the other faces of OSKA being recognized.

  • http://www.talkitect.com Lucas Gray

    I kind of agree with Bo in that this project would be stronger if they actually did relate more to the historic context of the building. Why not recreate some of those fantastic balconies as seen in the old photo? I’m not even all that interested in historic preservation. However, the new design looks like a post modern remake of an old brick facade. Some of the interior spaces are great though. The light coming in that skylight and casting shadows from the hanging objects is fantastic.

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  • http://www.snydesign.blogspot.com *SNYdesign

    Love the ceiling decor!

  • Archidol

    This project is not a historic “restoration”, but a preservation of the spirit of the community in this neighborhood. While OSKA did not restore the facade to its original design, they did update it with a modern response that reflects the contemporary climate. By doing this they added to the history of the building, thus extending its longevity and making it a viable resource for the community. Look to Europe and you will find many other similar successful examples of weaving the past with the present. Nice work OSKA.

  • Bo Lucky

    The architect project description says that the building character was maintained. Such the statement usually refers to the original building appearance. This was not done and the elevation was changed – modernized, if you will, giving the building a new look. Is it better than original? Well – it’s a question of a personal taste. If you ask me, I prefer the original building appearance.

    It doesn’t have to be a “restoration” project in order for the architect to restore (if existing) or to recreate “volumetrically” (as opposed to reconstruct) major character defining elements of the building to maintain its character. Such approach wouldn’t detract anything from the spirit of the community, the contemporary climate of the street or making it a viable resource for the community.

    I agree that they added to the history of the building, I am just not convinced that this is the best what could be done in this case.

  • https://twitter.com/iamdiddy Bo Diddy

    Love the reconstruction!