Maya Lin is the architect behind the new Museum of the Chinese in America building. New York Magazine explains how she found the museum’s central metaphor in a dank basement:
Lin eventually unearthed a two-story atrium reaching up from below ground and made it the heart of the new museum. To Lin, that space is like a shared but specific memory, an architectural touchstone of Chinese tradition. “In 1986, when I visited the compound where my father grew up in Fukien, it was a two-story structure that revolved around a courtyard,” she says. “It’s not that I’m literally trying to re-create that in the museum, but going down those stairs is like seeing where you come from.” Video portraits of immigrants are projected on glass panels like animated wall hangings. “As you go down the staircase, you’re seeing the whole arc of the evolution of Chinese in America.” […]
The main entrance at 215 Centre Street opens onto Chinatown, and the Lafayette Street side—which Lin calls the “evening entrance,” for films and lectures—faces Soho. There, passersby will peer through plate glass into a re-creation of a century-old Chinatown store—history repackaged as a window display. The two façades reflect the tiny organization’s two constituencies: the local community and the global Chinese diaspora.
Maya Lin’s Big Dig (New York Magazine)