Building and Architecture
The Story Behind Our Building
In 1910, with no financial backing from a bank, 170 early Chinese pioneers pooled their money to fund the construction of two twin buildings – the West and East Kong Yick Buildings - which would become the anchors of Seattle’s new Chinatown.
Also known as the Freeman Hotel, this building served as the cultural hub and living quarters for hundreds of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino immigrants who came to the United States in the pre-World War II era. These were the pioneers who – in search of new opportunities – built the Pacific Northwest region by working in lumber mills, canneries, construction sites, farms, restaurants, and hand laundries.
In the building, retail businesses lined the storefront. Social organizations – known as family associations – proudly displayed their presence along balconies. Upper floors provided cramped lodging to newly arrived laborers. Family apartments tucked away into side streets, forming the homes of the next generation and a community to last.
The Museum has restored the unheard stories of these immigrants by preserving a historic store, social meeting rooms and apartments. This building is one of the most significant Asian Pacific American historic sites in the United States. Walk the very steps of the early pioneers through our guided tours to learn more.
Our New (and Old) HomeIn 2002, the Museum embarked upon an extraordinary journey to transform a building and a community by raising $23.2 million to rehabilitate the historic East Kong Yick Building, a largely unoccupied historic single room occupancy hotel as its new permanent home. Our renovations resulted in reclaiming and inhabiting an underutilized structure in the Chinatown-International District, a neighborhood which has the highest inventory of vacant buildings in the city.
In 2008, with the help of more than 100 dedicated campaign volunteers, and contributions from 1,500 individuals, companies, foundations, and public agencies plus a New Market Tax Credit deal, the Museum completed the capital project and moved into our new home.
Since moving in, we’ve become an economic anchor and concierge for our neighborhood.
Architectural and Project TeamDesigned by Rick Sundberg, formerly of Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects, The Wing has received major international design awards, including: the 2009 Great Places Award (for excellence in the completed restoration), the 36th International Interior Design Award, and AIA 2009 Honor Awards.
Project Management and Financing Consultant: Homesight
General Contractor: Marpac Construction
Additional coverage:Olson Kundig Architects
The American Institute of Architects
Historic Seattle - awarded Best Adaptive Reuse Project
Special Merit Award in the Historical Restoration category by ABC (Associated Builders and Contractors).
Through The Wing’s historic hotel tour, you will receive guided access to see the full extent of the internationally-recognized building design.