Ken Chen                                                                                                                         

 

The civic center sits on the boundary between Chinatown and Leather District in downtown Boston, divided by a highway tunnel and a heavy traffic. The design features a central ‘spine’ that cuts through the entire site, creating a unifying structure and linking the key entry points on either side. Secondary pathways branch off from this main axis, mirroring the lateral connection between the two distinct zones and celebrating the two unique spatial experiences as one meanders across the two sides. On the east side of the spine, the building hosts various programs including classrooms, meeting rooms on the first two floors, with recreational space and a banquet hall on the top floor. The interior walls on the first two floors gradually thicken from one side to the other along the main hallway, creating a sense of growth that can potentially expand beyond the site boundary. These thick walls are carved to be occupiable, making the smaller programs more intimate and private. In contrast, an expansive gallery occupies the other half. This open space can serve as a temporary shelter for extreme climate conditions. The curve roof form, shaped by the surrounding thresholds on the site, accentuates yet integrates the juxtaposition of the two halves. The underbelly of the curve roof softens the light and shadow within the interior spaces, enhancing the sense of openness and transition between the more intimate areas to the public realms.

Institution: Harvard Graduate School of Design
Course: Core II - SITUATE
Project: P02 - Civic Mat
Instructor: Elle Gerdeman
Year: 2024










 

The project is a mid-rise civic center located in downtown Boston. The design is based on the distinct corner condition of the site where two streets intersect, shaping the waiting experience from both urban and architectural perspectives. The elevated corner façade not only reveals the interior of the theater to public view and use but also creates a dramatic spatial experience beneath it. The atrium above the theater tapers to an oculus at the corner, creating a distinctive visual connection between the building’s interior and the street that becomes more pronounced as visitors ascend the staircase.

Institution: Harvard Graduate School of Design
Course: Core II - SITUATE
Project: P01 - Civic Mid Rise
Instructor: Elle Gerdeman
Year: 2024





Stooool is made from a PETG plastic membrane and two custom-cut plywood end pieces; these components are joined together through heat-forming the PETG skin to tightly hug the two ends, creating an illusion of floating.

Institution: Harvard Graduate School of Design
Course: Materials
Project: Stool
Instructor: Jonathan Grinham
Team:Ken Chen, Enoch Liu, Eason Bai, Erica Xin
Year: 2024


Seek two objects you favor,
or two from one whole;
A stretched membrane hugging -
Polyethylene Terephthalate Glycol;

It bends and it flexes,
and molds to its space;
In strength unseen,
a rigid embrace.

Whether table or stool,
this bond remains useful;
but if it ever breaks,
remember to recycle;






The project is a geometric exploration focuses on complex surfaces, discovering architectural possibilities through studying different methods of discretization, including secant surfaces, folded plate structures, and waffle frames. The composite consists of identical modules that form an infinitely continuous topology. To show the concept, the physical model is made of four different modules originated from the same surface. Each module implements a specific type of discretization method, implying different architectural conditions and levels of resolution of the composite. The composite is able to expand either vertically or horizontally.

Institution: Harvard Graduate School of Design
Course: Architectural Representation II, Geometries in Interaction
Project: Tectonic Assembly
Instructor: Carl D’Apolito-Dworkin
Team: Eason Bai, Shengyuan Liu, Ken Chen
Year: 2023





 
The project involves transforming a generic triple-decker house in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood into an artist residency, a tribute to Bell Hooks’ legacy. The building’s dual-facade design creates a unique response to its dense urban environment. On one side, it preserves the traditional features like the shingles and window placement. In contrast, the opposite side features a gable roof, moving away from the conventional stacked appearance, thus initiating a dialogue between the dense urban surroundings and a serene, cabin-like retreat. The residency comprises three interconnected buildings forming a cohesive perimeter visible from the street, embracing the site. The first two floors house residential spaces, while the top floor is occupied by studios and galleries that benefit from abundant natural light. A gallery hallway connects the top floors, and a ground-level verandah leads to a peaceful outdoor space, blending the urban setting with a quiet communal area.

Institution: Harvard Graduate School of Design
Course: Core I - PROJECT
Project: P03 - Ordinary, Except
Instructor: Hyojin Kwon
Year: 2023