Exhibition / Publication / Public Programming

Venice, Italy; Oslo, Norway; New York, Massachusetts; Connecticut, USA


Winner of the
AASLH Leadership in History, Award of Merit
American Association for State and Local History
Paul E. Buchanan Award Vernacular Architecture Forum
CLHO Award of Merit CT League of History Organizations
CCAPA Media Award CT Chapter, American Planning Association

"It should be a pilgrimage for any architect or urbanist..." -- Metropolis Magazine
"...fascinating show..." -- The New Yorker


February 8 – May 12, 2014; Lyman Allyn Art Museum, New London, CT USA

September 24, 2015 – March 27, 2016; Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), New York, NY USA
October 2 - 26, 2018; University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA USA

May 26 – November 25, 2018; Included in the US Pavilion's Form N-X00: New Forms for Citizenship; Venice Architecture Biennale, Venice, Italy.

With graphic design by Stephen Fan and Shane Keaney

SUB URBANISMS is an exhibition exploring the controversial conversion of single family homes into multifamily communities by immigrant Chinese casino workers in southeastern Connecticut. By transplanting cultural values to their new country, these recent emigrants unconsciously challenge the norms underlying the most ubiquitous American housing type: the suburban single-family detached home. The exhibition invites visitors to reflect on the norms and cultural values that determine how we live, and to consider how cultural expectations for building design might further change in response to ecological, financial and societal pressures.

Combining photography, interviews and architectural representations, this exhibit probes the limits of inclusivity in a multicultural democracy when cultural practices conflict. With creative implications for the future of housing design and habitation, SUB URBANISMS offers a powerful inquiry into the ways in which culture shapes our lives and our homes.


P U B L I C   F O R U M

March 29, 2014; Connecticut College, Lyman Allyn Art Museum; New London, CT

Most Americans now live within four hours drive of a casino. Twenty-nine states have Native American casinos within their borders. Twenty states allow commercial casino gambling. Despite their social stigma, casinos continue to proliferate, creating unique dynamics of urbanization from both within the casino and in the surrounding communities. The forum explored the norms and values of American sub-urban life brought about by immigrant casino workers and patrons through issues of assimilation, class and race. Featuring speakers with backgrounds in architecture, urban design, land use, anthropology, journalism and American Studies, the forum invited the general public, community residents, academics, and public officials to an open conversation on a local topic with national significance and a global reach. 

Participants: Stephen Fan; Aron Chang, Waggonner & Ball; Chloe Taft, Yale University; Ellen Pader, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Jason Vincent, Norwich Community Development Corporation; Adam Bowles, Journalist

Jason Vincent, former Vice President of the Norwich Community Development Corporation, believes Norwich made several updates to the comprehensive plan (i.e., zoning) that reflect some of the sensibilities that the SubUrbanisms project hoped to influence:
· Listing home gardens as an authorized accessory use for residential sites, with no permit required.
· Removing off-street parking requirements in downtown Norwich in appreciation of the walkability of this neighborhood.
· Establishment of an Incentive Housing Overlay District in the neighborhoods near downtown to support higher density and transit-oriented development.
· Expansion of mixed use tools, particularly maximum density, in downtown that would enable creative re-imagination of the area along the Shetucket River.
· Creation of a Greenway Open Space District to enable altruistic dedications of land as open space along the Yantic and Shetucket river corridors for the purpose of transforming informal linkages into formal walkable corridors.

P H O T O   T O U R ,   N E I G H B O R H O O D   E X P L O R A T I O N   &   C O N V E R S A T I O N

November 7, 2015; Van Alen Institute, Museum of Chinese in America, American Legion Lt. Kimlau Chinese Memorial Post 1291; New York, NY

In fall 2015, the Van Alen Institute and the Museum of Chinese in America explored how a neighborhood’s borders impact its residents. Participants joined us for an afternoon exploration in which they traced the shifting boundaries and hidden stories of Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown. Accompanied by leaders in the realm of social media documentation, we collectively walked the neighborhood’s perimeters, generating an alternative cartography of Chinatown’s invisible gateways along the themes of transportation, food, contemporary art, and more by posting to Instagram with the hashtag #ChinatownEdges.

Afterward, we convened for a discussion of the neighborhood’s thresholds and the role of social media in community mapping, accompanied by a projection of the afternoon’s photos as a backdrop.

Participants: Stephen Fan; Irene Chin, artist and filmmaker of The Lost Arcade; Diya Vij, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs; Beatrice Chen, Museum of Chinese in America 


Multiple Perspectives. Photo: Anita Kan 

Multiple Perspectives. Photo: Anita Kan 

Multiple Perspectives. Photo: Anita Kan 

Post industrial development: a nuclear reactor facility repurposed and expanded into the second largest casino in the W Hemisphere 



Readymade: Cultural Framings. Photo: Anita Kan 

The Treachery of Signs + The Green Lawn Aesthetic 

Art Nouveau Gate + Appropriations of HSBC 'Different Points of Value' Ad Campaign 

Multiplying Thresholds and Frames. Photo: Anita Kan 

Interiorized Exterior 

Suburban Palimpsest 



Exterior Interiorized: Extant siding serves as communal kitchen back splash. Photo: Anita Kan 

Hybrid Identities 

Casino Urbanization: A National Gamble 

Regular Bus Routes 


Application of Principles to a New Model for Living 













Jason Vincent, Chloe Taft, Ellen Pader at the public forum, Connecticut College/Lyman Allyn

Van Alen Institute "Chinatown Periphery" tour

Irene Chin, Diya Vij, S. Fan, and Beatrice Chen at the Van Alen "Chinatown Periphery" discussion