Past winners

Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Award for Architectural Excellence, 3rd Place: Studio Gang Architects, for Chinese American Service League's Kam L. Liu Building

Serving 15,000 persons annually, with over 200 multilingual and multicultural professional and support staff, the Chinese American Service League (CASL), Chinatown's most venerable service organization, has grown from a group of friends who came together for potluck dinners in 1978 to the largest and most comprehensive social service agency of its kind in the Midwest. With this growth, sites scattered throughout the community that housed CASL’s prorams were quickly being outgrown.

So the organization decided to build a new center, the Kam L. Liu Building, which now is home to dozens of the group's programs under one roof, has become an organizing feature of the neighborhood, and offers room for future growth.

Designed by Studio Gang/O'Donnell (now called Studio Gang Architects), the building was the result of a long study of community trends and needs. The floorplan is tightly organized to house adult day service, child day care, a chef training kitchen, classrooms, a community technology center, a multi-purpose community room and offices. Each element of the design was also reviewed by feng shui masters to ensure that the architecture complemented the aspirations of those who entered the building.

The results are a modern community center with materials, colors and patterns that resonate with Chinese culture. For example, the two-story wall of windows in the community room are protected from heat gain by a steel lattice sunshade that suggests bamboo, while color schemes throughout the facility echo feng shui themes of happiness and prosperity. The building is in Chinatown's northeast corner, near the largest open space in the community, the new Ping Tom Park. It is situated to capture great natural light that fills the multi-purpose room and the senior activity rooms with its adjoining garden; sunlight also reflects from the titanium surfaces of the external walls.

The principles of feng shui, alignment, balance, and harmony, are exquisitely realized in the Kam L. Liu Building, and help to earn the Studio Gang Architects this award.

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