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Project Type

Training Center

Project Location

Seattle, WA

Project Partner

Helping Link

Project Start Date


Project Team

David Seely - Project Lead

Kari Stiles

Chris Wong

Minh Nguyen

Hayley Snider

Stephen Silve

Kristel Knight

Katerina Prochaska

Emily Perchlik

# of AWB Volunteers



Helping Link-Một Dấu Nối, located in Seattle is a Vietnamese community center supporting and strengthening the local Vietnamese community. The center began as an organization providing english language classes to the Vietnamese community in partnership with students from the University of Washington. It has since expanded to include social programs for refugees settling in the Seattle area, translation services, counseling, computer classes, summer camps, after school programs, and organizing cultural events. Helpink Link partners with community colleges, universities, libraries, as well as local government agencies.


In the spring of 2010 the University of Washington’s Neighborhood Design Build Studio partnered with Helping Link to renovate their entry and terrace to improve its accessibility, safety and security, function, visibility, cultural relevance, and beauty. The design produced an accessible elevated deck large enough for group gatherings and protected from the often bustling parking lot surrounding the entry.


In late 2010, Helping Link approached Architects Without Borders to assist in furthering the work recently completed by University of Washington’s design students. Security and safety in the evening hours continued to be an issue. The center also hoped to add landscape elements to the main deck and provide an area where food could be planted and grown by children in their summer camp programs.


AWB volunteers worked with Helping Link to formulate a culturally relevant concept that retained the character of the UW student’s design, included sustainable methods of water harvesting, and provide a beautiful garden-like atmosphere. Volunteers used the tenants of Feng Shui to help determine locations of serenity, active gathering, plant types, planting areas, and color. Water harvesting, built-in and moveable furniture elements were considered. Opportunities to improve the lower entries with regard to visibility and security were discussed.


After meeting with the Helping Link Board of Directors, AWB volunteers worked to finalize their design, assisted with budgeting, and began organizing for a build day. AWB assisted in procuring donated building materials, plants, and hardware. Along with volunteers from Helping Link and the National Association of Asian American Professionals, AWB led the reconstruction of existing fence panels, the entry trellis, and guided volunteers on planting the donated trees. A rain barrel was installed to collect water out on the deck without having to travel indoors. New locks for the main entry and gate were installed as well as an entirely new door replaced a damaged side door. Security and visibility in the evening hours have been improved and as funds become available, the plans for the garden and planting area will continue.

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