Category: Urban Planning, Neighborhood Visioning, Cultural Planning
Project Location: Philadelphia, PA
People: Power: Place was a cultural planning process that created a shared vision of Chinatown North/Callowhill.
This cultural plan will encourage people’s participation to strengthen the neighborhood’s standing as a vibrant hub of cultural production. This cultural plan will offer recommendations that support and advance the equitable growth and sustainable development of the neighborhood.
Built on a strong foundation of creativity and innovation, and a history of political struggle and community organizing, the community-driven process, the cultural planning process is an opportunity to strengthen the social networks of residents, businesses, cultural institutions, outside stakeholders, and others that are committed to the just growth of the neighborhood. Additionally, the cultural planning process can begin to reconnect the neighborhood to Chinatown and repair divisions created during the construction of the Vine Street Expressway.
Collectively created model of the neighborhood highlighting favorite places
Asset mapping favorite places and memories in Chinatown North and Callowhill
Participants adding to the neighborhood model at AAI's Block Party 2016
Youth Arts workshop participants observing and mapping the neighborhood
Neighborhood designers hard at work developing cultural strategies to strengthen Chinatown North
Folk Arts and Cultural Treasures School students sharing their visions for Chinatown North
One youth group's interpretations for more cultural spaces in the neighborhood
Paul Robeson Wellness Center
PROJECT PARTNERS: Community Services Unlimited (Owner), Robert Ginsberg (Food Service Architect), Fruchtman and Associates (Mechanical and Plumbing Engineers), Silver Roth Associates (Electrical Engineer), Ibarra Engineering (Structural Engineer)
DATES: April 2015-September 2018
CATEGORY: Architecture and Construction
PROJECT LOCATION: South Los Angeles, CA
The Paul Robeson Wellness Center is the project of Community Services Unlimited. It is the first beyond organic market and social enterprise cafe in South Los Angeles.
Community Services Unlimited (CSU) envisions equitable, healthful, and sustainable communities that are self-reliant, inter-relating and where every individual has the support and resources needed to develop to their fullest capacity.
A vibrant hub of wellness and access to healthy foods
Students from East LA Renaissance Academy created the East L.A. version of the "Map of the Stars and Landmarks". The project focused on narratives that celebrate the community and highlight important people and places that strengthen the East L.A. community. Students spent a semester interviewing, writing, drawing, and designing the map, with the goal to share the importance of their neighborhood with many others.
ELARA Students: Desiree Avila, Lisandro Camargo-Mendez, Robert Ivan Castañeda, Alexander Flores, Angelica Fuentes Sandoval, Ivonne Alexis Gomez, Daniel Hernandez, Jiovany Huerta, Brian Leon, Rafael Leon, Angelica Lomeli, Dave Lomeli, Jennifer Lopez, Nancy Lopez, Andrea Manjarrez, Anthony Medel, Valeria Medina, Fergie Mendoza, Diana Morales, Daniel Moreno, Jesus Palalia, Brandon Perez, Jimmy Isaac Perez, Annalis Brailyn Radilla, Alejandra Mariel Ramos, Jackelin Rios Zavala, Maritza Rodriguez, Jamie Salas-Duarte, Giovanni Sandoval, Mariana Soriano-Perez, Deanna Trujeque, Guillermo Tzarax, Guadalupe Velez, Cesar Verdugo
ELARA Teacher // Assistant Principal, Martin Buchman
Greetings from East L.A. Crew: Andy Alvarez, Public Matters Urban Futures Lab Fellow, Mike Blockstein, Public Matters, Reanne Estrada, Public Matters, Theresa Hwang, Dept. of Places, Katie Jagodka, USC Intern, Evan Kort, USC Intern, Justin Pascone, USC Intern, Shirley Ramirez, UC Riverside Policy Intern
Program Support: Greetings from East L.A. is supported by Exploring The Arts, East Los Angeles Renaissance Academy at Esteban E. Torres High School and the USC Price School of Public Policy L.E.A.P. Program.
Spanish Translation: Lorena De Corzo, Clara Mejia, Yair Ramos, Sergio Soto
Special Thanks: Grace Cruz, Education Specialist, Center for Powerful Public Schools, Fernando Delgado, Assistant Field Deputy/Caseworker,Office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis (D-1), KeAndra Dodds, Transportation Deputy, Office of Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis (D-1), Kyle Finck, Special Section Lead, LA Times High School Insider, Daniela Gerson, Director, Community Engagement, LA Times High School Insider, Carmen Sainz, Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning, Elon Schoenholz Photography, David Sloane, Ph.D., Professor, USC Price School of Public Policy
East LA Map of the Stars and Landmarks
students explaining design ideas in class
Whittier Blvd Postcard
Our Skid Row: Skid Row Housing Trust
PROJECT PARTNERS: Our Skid Row was a project of the Skid Row Housing Trust. Community Partners: Downtown Women's Center, Lamp Community Arts Program, Los Angeles Community Action Network, Los Angeles Poverty Dept, United Coalition East Prevention Project
Skid Row Resident Working Group members: Chella Colemen, Kenneth Davis, Louise Mbella, Walter Fears, Wendy Gaitor, Tom Grode, Anthony Haynes, Silvia Hernandez, Leonard Kraus, Suzette Shaw, Harvey Shells, Brent Smith, Twin, Carmen Vega, Pam Walls, Buck Winston
DATES: May 2014-Oct 2015.
CATEGORY: Urban Planning and Design
PROJECT LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
Our Skid Row was a project that Theresa initiated while she was the Director of Community Design and Planning at the Skid Row Housing Trust.
Our Skid Row is a resident-driven neighborhood vision for a vibrant and equitable Skid Row. It is a collective vision that redesigns Skid Row and imagines new ways that a city can develop to prioritize people and place. Our Skid Row celebrates the history and residents that call this neighborhood home. Over a year and a half, residents gathered, taught lessons on the struggles of the neighborhood, shared stories about the importance of Skid Row, and designed solutions to improve the area and enhance the community for the existing residents.
Skid Row is a 50 block and 0.4 square mile neighborhood in downtown Los Angeles that has an estimated total population of 10,000 residents. (2010 Census) Over two-thirds of the population is male. Approximately 60% are African-American and the median household income is just over $11,000, less than a quarter of the Los Angeles average of $46,000. (2011 City Data) Approximately, over one-third of the population is homeless, with over 3500 people living in temporary beds in shelters or on the streets (2014 Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority), making Skid Row the site of the highest concentration of homeless individuals in the United States.
Although historically a transient community, Skid Row has grown into a place of permanence with long-time residents that have created a strong social fabric that supports extensive grassroots organizing efforts to strengthen the neighborhood. The physical infrastructure does not appropriately support the equitable growth of the community, and the perceived narrative of Skid Row does not reflect the culture of resiliency and innovation.
The development process for Our Skid Row was rooted in the expertise of the existing resident community. We implemented a spectrum of participatory activities with multiple points of entry for engagement to ensure there were several and varied opportunities for participation. Programs included community-engaged asset mapping, participatory visioning sessions, a mobile participation station, and design resources workshops. We held over 25 opportunities for involvement that ranged from sidewalk interactions to 4 hour-long design charrettes. Attendance and participation was measured at over 600 engagements, with over 380 unique participants, representing over 40 different communities across Los Angeles County, with many participants returning for several events.
A mobile Participation Station was wheeled around the streets to hold design workshops on the sidewalk and engage currently unhoused residents.
Our Skid Row community vision for equitable development. In collaboration with artist, Rosten Woo.
A resident comment card explaining elements of a neighborhood
Asset-mapping in process
Catalog of existing urban design elements in the streets
observing through drawing
A design workshop in-progess. Resident generated the foundation for all design improvements.
Design model examining improvements to corridors
Design resource workshop with invited technical assistance professionals.
Change the narrative of the neighborhood. Why do you love Skid Row?
Skid Row Design Collective
PROJECT PARTNERS: various
DATES: October 2015-present
CATEGORY: Community Organizing, Architecture
PROJECT LOCATION: Skid Row, Los Angeles, CA
The Skid Row Design Collective is a group of advocates, artists, designers, and activists, that use the arts and community organizing to improve public spaces in Skid Row Los Angeles.
Big City Lab
PROJECT PARTNERS: Leonardo Bravo (Big City Forum), Ron Espiritu (Camino Nuevo-Miramar High School Ethnic Studies Teacher), Richardo Palvecino (photography), Margaret Medina (creative writing), Louis Alvarado (graphic design), Form follows Function (documentary)
DATES: Feb 2016-June 2016
CATEGORY: Design Education
PROJECT LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
Big City Lab is the design education initiative of Big City Forum. Through Big City Lab, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy- Miramar High School students explore the history, storylines, and social conditions embedded in their neighborhoods by examining issues related to identity, storytelling, social justice, public space, and cultural capital.
Theresa Hwang facilitated the architecture and urban design portion of the curriculum. She took the students on a field trip to asset map and re-explore their neighborhood of MacArthur Park. Students conducted interviews on the street, drew observations of the streets, and made qualitative assessments about the people and places they observed. After their field trip, students complied their analysis into asset maps that shared their findings of their neighborhood.
Using their field analysis, the second half of the module focused on student-generated design solutions to some of the issues they observed, including how to create more access to healthy food, how to support indigenous cultures, ways to prevent gang violence, along with the incorporation of more arts and culture into the area.
Students making models of improvements to their neighborhood
student during asset mapping activity
Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center
PROJECT PARTNERS: Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center, Bunker Hill Community College
DATES: April 2015-Jan 2016
CATEGORY: Community Engagement, Architecture
PROJECT LOCATION: Boston, MA
Theresa led the community engagement and conceptual design phase of the development of a new community arts space in Boston Chinatown.
The community engagement strategy was designed to include multiple voices and stakeholders at various stages of the design process to influence the development of the space while generating a sense of shared ownership, support, and buy-in for the new cultural space. Engagement activities included visioning with youth, hands-on intergenerational model-making workshop, and sidewalk interactions at the August Moon street festival. Over 190 people were engaged in the process.
The Equity Collective is Barbara Brown Wilson (University of Virginia), Christine Gaspar (CUP), Jess Garz (Surdna Foundation), Jess Zimbabwe (Rose Center for Public Leadership, National League of Cities), Katie Swenson (Enterprise Community Partners), Liz Ogbu (Studio O), Nicole Joslin (Austin Community Design and Development Center), Theresa Hwang (Dept of Places)
As a group of design professionals and educators, they are raising the bar of community-engaged design.
PROJECT PARTNERS: Enterprise Community Partners, Skid Row Housing Trust
DATES: Sept 2012
CATEGORY: Design Education
PROJECT LOCATION: online
The Participatory Design Toolkit is a guide to engage residents and other stakeholders in the design and development of affordable housing. This was a culminating publication of Theresa's Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellowship.
Theresa designs and facilitates reflective workshops on various topics, including social justice and strategic organizational development. She creates an intentional space for dialogue scaffolded with activities that stir ideas and self-awareness.
In October 2016, Theresa was invited to hold a workshop at Commonfield, a convening of progressive arts organizations, practices, and cultural workers. She facilitated several 90 minute sessions that created a focused space to reflect on oppression, privilege, and their impact on the arts community.
In January 2016, Theresa facilitated a workshop on equity and racial justice with the faculty of Design Futures. The workshop reflected how community-engaged design could directly support racial justice.
Theresa Hwang teaches undergraduate urban design and architecture studios at Woodbury University. Past projects include: students explored design possibilities for the revitalization of Skid Row while learning participatory design processes and community engagement techniques.
site asset mapping workshop with students and Skid Row residents