Chinese-American Community Center: Expressing Community and Immigrant Identity
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Monterey Park is a small suburban community, ten miles east of downtown Los Angeles, with a population of 60,269 residents. The largest percentage of Chinese immigrants in suburban America can currently be found in Monterey Park, California. Monterey Park has rightfully earned the title as "The First Suburban Chinatown" (Fong). It is the only city in America with a majority Asian population. Bounded by three major freeways, Monterey Park serves as the gateway to the San Gabriel Valley. Though a majority of the residents are of Asian descent, the community also consists of Caucasian, Hispanic, and African American residents. The goal of this thesis is to design a community center that will serve as a gathering space to bring the different populations together. The center will house public functions important for understanding Chinese culture. This will include a restaurant and teaching kitchen, theater, library, exhibit space, courtyard, garden, workshops, dance rooms and classrooms. The arrangement of these spaces, the choice of materials, and the expression of the façade reflect a unique Chinese-American style. This thesis explores the multi-faceted meanings of "identity" and how architecture can express the Chinese-American struggle to hold on to heritage while assimilating to a new culture.