The Bartlett School of Architecture


Bartlett Research Conversations: Kerri Culhane

17 November 2020, 4:00 pm–5:30 pm

Image: Mott Street, 1911. Bain Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, DC (unrestricted).

MPhil/PhD student, Kerri Culhane, discusses her research.

Event Information

Open to





Thomas Abbs

This event will take place on Zoom.

Building Identity: Transnational Architecture in New York City’s First Chinatown since 1882

Kerri Culhane

Supervisors: Prof Edward Denison and Dr Tania Sengupta


Since the enactment of America’s first race-based immigration policy, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, New York’s diasporic Chinese have applied a transnational architecture to create spaces in which Chinese American society and identity were formed.

Building Identity explores cultural representation in the built environment of New York’s Chinatown, beginning with the adaptation of the Hong Kong shophouse typology to New York during the era of exclusion (1882-1943), fundamentally shaping Chinatown’s commercial economy. Sino-American alliance in the Second World War ended exclusion, creating a demand for housing and ushering in the parallel architectural efforts of the Chinatown Building Project (1946-60) and the China Village Plan (1950-58), two visions for representing “authentic” Chinese culture through modern mainland Chinese architectural precedent.

Responding temporally to each change in immigration law, Chinatown architecture functions as a material negotiation tactic, paradoxically highlighting cultural difference as a means of fostering socio-political acceptance.

About The Bartlett Research Conversations

The Bartlett School of Architecture’s Research Conversations seminars comprise work-in-progress and upgrade presentations by students undertaking the MPhil/PhD Architectural Design and MPhil/PhD Architectural and Urban History and Theory. All current UCL staff and students are welcome to attend.

Held regularly throughout the academic year, the seminars are attended by the programme directors, Professor Jonathan Hill and Professor Sophia Psarra, PhD Coordinators, Dr. Nina Vollenbröker and Dr Sophie Read, and other PhD supervisors.

Image: Mott Street, 1911. Bain Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, DC (unrestricted).