This semester I’m part of a team in the FHL Boston Affordable Housing Development Competition. My team and I are working on a development proposal for a site in Chinatown, between Oxford Street and Ping-On Alley. Ping-On Alley is where Chinatown was supposedly founded in the 1860s, as Chinese workers completed the Transcontinental Railway and settled in tents near Boston’s waterfront. Half of the site has sandy ground beneath it, at the threshold of solid ground and the former beach that was filled in the late 19th century. The site, taking up four lots, is half zoned in the Chinatown Historic District, which we are trying to honor in our design and planning. We are really excited about our project, which will include a commemoration of the Ping-On Alley founding myth and a small corridor proposal for Oxford Street. There is a fabulous pocket park a couple of doors down on Oxford that is under plans for redevelopment as a playground. It’s a fantastic, urban site. The developer who will be proposing this project in “the real world” is the Chinese Economic Development Council. They do great work, including small-business incubation and advocacy in Chinatown.
Before the pics, a short restaurant review. One of the perks of working in Chinatown is that it is a very delicious place. Our team went to Windsor Dim Sum Cafe for a lunch meeting, and I was so impressed. The dumplings — especially the steamed shrimp dumplings (har gow) and soup dumplings — had the most delicate texture. They also did the most incredible thing with essentially a donut wrapped in a large rice noodle, served with scallions chopped on top and some sauce. I also grossed my teammates out by ordering what I thought was the best dessert ever — a warm, mochi-style gluten ball filled with sweet black sesame paste and rolled in “peanut dust”. It’s a small spot, and you check off your picks on a card instead of having carts go by. I highly recommend it!
Okay, on to the photos. I love the irregular lots, fire escape stairs, and tightly packed buildings. I also love ghost marks, which you probably already knew but I thought I’d mention. It’s a pity that we’re going to end up covering this up.