STUDIOS Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month by Studios Architecture

STUDIOS Celebrates AAPI Heritage Month

DATEMay 23, 2024

In honor of AAPI Heritage Month, STUDIOS is highlighting our projects from around the globe that have been enriched by the contributions of our AAPI colleagues.

STUDIOS worked with Team 7 International, a San Francisco-based architectural firm, to design the interiors of the Shanghai JKS Arts & Cultural Center.

STUDIOS and Team 7 previously collaborated on the design of numerous projects, including major performing arts centers such as the Shanghai Grand Theater, Shanghai Cultural Square, and the Shanghai International Dance Center. Jack Tam, Principal Architect and Founder of Team 7 International, worked alongside STUDIOS Principal & Chair Emeritus Thomas Yee for over 20-years to realize these projects.

Nestled in a wooded area an hour south of central Shanghai, the JKS Arts and Cultural Center is a new destination for the district of Fengxian, offering venues for mainstream and experimental theater, musical performances, art exhibitions, fashion shows, and other events. Drawing inspiration from the project’s location, the main lobby and key public spaces echo the adjacent forest and provide an inviting entre to the interior spaces. The project offers three performance spaces: the 1,200 seat, two-tier main theater; the experimental, 500-seat multi-purpose hall, and the intimate 300-seat theater, which is designed for small-scale, locally-based programs. The main concept is the fusion of fluid shapes and materials to create an immersive and dynamic visitor experience.

STUDIOS collaborated with the talented Chinese-American artist Nancy Hou of Hou de Sousa for the WMATA DC Headquarters completed in 2022. Nancy and her partner Josh de Sousa brought the award-winning sculptural triptych of “Aura," "Hooray," and "Pebble," which was inspired by the project and surrounding environment.

The sculptures beautifully echo the visionary urban plan of Pierre L'Enfant and the iconic design of D.C. metro stations by Harry Weese. These artworks, which received the international 2023 CODAawards Merit Award in the Institutional category, stand as a testament to the power of art in public spaces and the cultural richness of our community.

Can you tell us about your background and what initially drew you to the arts and cultural sector?

I got started as an artist doing large scale temporary installation art as a way of testing architectural ideas more quickly and with fewer constraints than is possible with buildings. One of the first installations I did was for CulturalDC, and that's how I initially got to know the organization. Over the years I've worked with the organization as an artist, architect, and eventually as a board member.

As the president of Cultural DC, can you share some of the key goals and initiatives you are currently focused on?

I joined CulturalDC's board five years ago, and since that time the organization has gone through a significant shift in its Mission and Vision. CulturalDC has always supported local artists, but we've gone from primarily working with DC's real estate community to activate private buildings to taking on a much more public facing art program, supporting both emerging local talent and providing space for more established artists to take a risk with their work. Our mission is to support innovative artists across all disciplines and make their work accessible to diverse audiences. We provide unconventional space for relevant and challenging work that is essential to nurturing vibrant urban communities. As President of the Board, my goal is to ensure that we have an active and engaged board and make good decisions that work to further our Mission.

How do you plan to expand Cultural DC’s reach and impact within the community?

One of our key projects right now is to renovate and transform the Source Theater, a building we own on 14th street, into a more transdisciplinary arts venue that supports not only traditional theater but also more non-traditional forms of performance and visual art. We hope this will allow us to use the building to support our own programming much better than it currently does.

How does Cultural DC engage with and support the local community?

We own and operate the Mobile Art Gallery - a shipping container gallery, designed by Studios, that travels to where the people are rather than waiting for them to come to us. The gallery has been to all 8 wards in DC and has brought art to more than 90,000 people in DC's neighborhoods.

How do you ensure that Cultural DC’s programs and initiatives are inclusive and accessible to diverse audiences?

CulturalDC's curatorial focus is on artists of color and LGBTQ+ artists, providing much needed space for these artists in our city, and bringing their work out into the community. See also the previous answer.

What has been the most rewarding experience for you since joining Cultural DC?

For me it has been the most rewarding to get to know the artists, curators, and arts patrons in our community. I've met the most amazingly creative, kind, and generous people through CulturalDC.

Can you share a story or an example of how Cultural DC has made a tangible difference in the lives of artists or community members?

Through our Capital Artist Residency program, each year since 2022 CulturalDC has supported an up and coming artist with lodging, studio space, a stipend, and a show. This program has helped to catapult these artists to the next level in their practice by giving them the space to focus on something new and the visibility and press coverage to put it out there to the world!