T!C Preserving Historic Facade Press Conference

Friday, December 18, 2020

Press Conference: Preserving Historic Facade - the Quickest Path to Rebuilding a Bigger & Better 70 Mulberry (PS23) in Chinatown

Severely damaged in a 5-alarm fire at the start of 2020, the fate of this iconic schoolhouse and beloved Chinatown community center hangs in limbo. As the City is poised to release results of its first community engagement process, the public must understand the implications of different rebuilding scenarios that have been publicly proposed. Think!Chinatown (T!C), a neighborhood nonprofit focused on community engagement & the arts, invites experts in historic architecture, planning, and cultural nonprofit administration to illuminate these paths forward for rebuilding 70 Mulberry(PS23).

T!C has been filling in the gaps in the 70 Mulberry community engagement process by compiling relevant information and digging into research about architectural feasibility and zoning (which can be found here: )

At this press conference, we will reflect on needs identified by the community and propose next steps for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS). Architect Erik Chu will give a presentation about the technical implications of proposed building scenarios. Architectural historian Kerri Culhane will talk about the history of not only 70 Mulberry the building but also the city planning of the surrounding area. T!C President Amy Chin will share case studies highlighting Asian American cultural centers across the country as models. Other members from the community will be invited to give comments as well.

About Think!Chinatown
Think!Chinatown is a nonprofit organization based in Manhattan’s Chinatown working at the intersection of storytelling, the arts, and neighborhood engagement. Learn more at

About Yin Kong
Yin Kong 邝海音 is a community-based designer living and working in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Think!Chinatown is the culmination of her work in urban design, museum, culinary & cultural instruction, and community engagement. Previously an Urban Curator of the Dashilar Project, she consulted a municipal agency of Beijing on urban revitalization strategies in the city’s historic hutong core. Yin holds a Masters of Architecture, Urban Design, from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London and a Bachelors of Arts, Urban Studies, from Columbia University.

About Amy Chin
Amy Chin 陳雪媚 is a cultural leader who has advanced the role of arts and culture in communities large and small for over 30 years, through leadership and service in organizations like the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corporation, the Cultural Arts Advisory Commission for the City of New York, the New York Chinese Cultural Center, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. She has been a consultant to private foundations and government agencies across the nation on arts funding and non-profit management and programming. Amy’s grandfather came to New York in 1903 and lived on Pell Street. After a childhood in her father’s Chinese laundry in the Bronx and Sundays in Chinatown, Amy earned a degree in East Asian studies from Barnard College and speaks Toisanese, Cantonese and Mandarin.

About Erik Chu
Erik Chu is an architect and urban designer of 25-years experience in NYC with a background in working with historic buildings. He has worked for Marvel Architects and for Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners. Erik graduated Summa cum Laude from the University of California at Berkeley, and he has a Master of Architecture degree from Yale University. His design experience includes many residential and cultural projects. Cultural projects enable a community to reflect and to project alternate visions of itself which ultimately aspire toward a better, more kind, world. Erik’s practice seeks to design projects that enable this vision of a better world to become reality. He aspires to a practice focused on community good. Erik sits on the AIANY Chapter Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

About Kerri Culhane
Kerri Culhane is an architectural historian with experience that spans twenty years of professional historic preservation and planning practice, ranging from single sites to landscape-scale planning and sustainable development projects. Over the past 15 years, Kerri’s work has focused on the past, present, and future of the immigrant neighborhoods of New York City’s Lower East Side, Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Bowery. In 2015, she curated the exhibition Chinese Style: Rediscovering the Architecture of Poy Gum Lee, 1900-1968 (Museum of Chinese in America, New York City), which examined the life and career of the first Chinese American professional architect to practice in New York’s Chinatown. Her ongoing doctoral research at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, documents an architectural history of Chinatown since 1882.



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