America’s Chinatowns: Identity, Belonging, and the Future of Place

Cyclists and park visitors on a bridge in Ping Tom Memorial Park
Ping Tom Memorial Park, Chicago. site design group, ltd. / image: Andrew Bruah for site design group, ltd.

ASLA, in coordination with members of the ASLA Diversity Summit community, has crafted activities and resources for our celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month this May, including a four-part webinar series on the past, present, and future of Chinatown, drawing analogies to other neighborhoods like them that are subject to ongoing forces of gentrification driving neighborhood change. We encourage all those interested to register for the next two presentations in the series:

Portsmouth Square Renovation
Tuesday, May 19 | 2:00 p.m. ET
Speakers: Jim Lee, FASLA, and Yu-Chung Li, ASLA

The Future of American Chinatowns
Tuesday, May 26 | 2:00 p.m. ET
Speakers: Ernie Wong, FASLA, Jenn Low, PLA, and other special guests

All presentations are being recorded and will be posted to ASLA’s website, including the first two webinars that took place earlier in May: Chinatowns of America, presented by Ernie Wong, FASLA, and Dear Chinatown, D.C., presented by Jenn Low, PLA.

ASLA’s Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month Webinar Series speakers. Clockwise from top left: Ernie Wong, FASLA, Jenn Low, PLA, Yu-Chung Li, ASLA, and Jim Lee, FASLA. For more information on the series and speakers, see ASLA’s website.

More on the upcoming webinars in the series:

On May 19, Jim Lee, FASLA, principal of SWA Group’s San Francisco office, and Yu-Chung Li, ASLA, will present on the Portsmouth Square Renovation. Portsmouth Square is the heart of the Chinatown San Francisco community. As the largest public open space with a central location and ease of access to transit, this park has become the outdoor living-room for many local residents. The fundamental goal for this renovation was to enhance the park and keep it as the community living-room for the local neighborhood. Thus the community process focused on local stakeholders and residents through a participatory design process to develop priorities, evaluate and refine designs, and provide feedback and direction for the improvement Plan.

On May 26, Ernie Wong, FASLA, founder and principal of site design group, ltd., and Jenn Low, an integrative designer, design educator, and landscape architect, will lead a discussion with special guests on the future of American Chinatowns.

Other Special Features for AAPI Heritage Month:

What Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Means to ASLA and Us: A Letter from Diversity Summit Participants Masako Ikegami, ASLA, and Gloria Lau, ASLA

ASLA Diversity Summit participants Masako Ikegami, ASLA (left) and Gloria Lau, ASLA (right).

Two members from ASLA’s Diversity Summit community worked to shape activities and develop resources, which include a letter to the broader ASLA member community that has inspired ASLA’s 2020 celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. We invite you to read What Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Means to ASLA and Us by Masako Ikegami, ASLA, SWA Group, and Gloria Lau, ASLA, Stantec.

Celebrating Hmong People and Culture

Our special feature this month includes a virtual tour of the Hmong Cultural Plaza, an open-air pavilion and stone garden within the Phalen Regional Park China Garden in Minnesota, and an introduction to the Hmong culture by ASLA Diversity Summit participant Cheeneng Yang, ASLA.

Interviews You Shouldn’t Miss

The AAPI webpage features interviews with, and salutes to, Asian American pioneers in landscape architecture.

For more information on ASLA’s diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, visit If you have any questions or would like to get involved, please contact Lisa J. Jennings, Manager, Career Discovery and Diversity at ASLA, at

Leave a Reply