The Oversea Chinese Mission is the largest Chinese church in New York. Founded in 1961 it has grown to serve 1,500 worshipers each Sunday at its main church in Chinatown, in addition to five satellite congregations in the tri-state region. The church is bursting with activity and is an anchor in the neighborhood. Besides worship services (conducted in Mandarin, Cantonese and English), OCM provides daycare and after school programs, language and adult classes. In a pioneering move in 1964, OCM purchased a former school north of Canal Street that had been built in the 1900s. This design is for the first large scale renovation of the building since then.
The aims of the design are threefold: 1) to fit still more program into the building, 2) to up-grade the entire infrastructure , and 3) to open up the building to the busy corner of Hester and Mott Streets, thereby enhancing the church’s identity and presence in the community.
The scope includes:
- A new entrance at grade on the corner, façade improvements to the 1st and 2nd floors, with a new three story glazed lobby.
- An addition that fills-in a former lightwell on each floor for which zoning approval by the Board of Standard and Appeals was attained.
- The gut renovation of all nine floors, including new sanctuaries, day care and classroom facilities.
- Full mechanical, electrical and fire protection infrastructure up-grades and new elevator.
The unique aspect of this church is the three levels of separate sanctuaries – which can either be used for simultaneous separate services or linked together with the audio-visual system. While the primary function of the sanctuaries is for worship, each has a different characteristic.
- 1st floor sanctuary doubles as a multi-purpose hall for community events, weddings and baptisms, and for classes and seminars,
- 2nd floor sanctuary is a dedicated spiritual space, with the highest level of finish and fixed pews,
- 3rd floor sanctuary is a flexible space that can be used for worship, classrooms and as a playroom.