In the heart of Manhattan's Lower East Side, you'll find a shining example of community support and empowerment: the Chinese American Planning Council (CPC) Community Center. Over the span of four years, a transformative project has been underway, weaving together the threads of culture, inclusivity and innovation into the very fabric of its design. Inspired by CPC's core principles of integration, inclusion, and empowerment, the project has blossomed into a space that not only serves but also embraces the diverse communities it represents.

At the forefront of this project is a focus on holistic design as a catalyst for community engagement and support. The project's design philosophy mirrors CPC's mission, aiming to create a welcoming and timeless environment that resonates with individuals from all walks of life. From the warm and inviting interior garden to the flexible event spaces that adapt to the evolving needs of the community, every aspect of the design is intentional in fostering a sense of belonging.

All the dining areas throughout the space were designed to encourage a sense of social vibrancy without being overstimulating. Photography Credit: Aaron Thompson

One of the key elements driving the design narrative is the concept of inclusivity. Recognizing that CPC serves a wide range of demographics, including Chinese Americans and immigrants from Hispanic backgrounds, the design incorporates elements such as multilingual and brail signage. By blending cultural influences with modern design principles, the project creates a space that is not only functional but also reflective of the community it serves.

The importance of design in supporting businesses and organizations cannot be overstated – and at M Moser, our holistic design approach integrates elements of design, culture, inclusivity, technology, wellness and sustainability to enrich the built environment, fostering a comprehensive and people-centric ethos. This aligns seamlessly with community-driven projects to redefine the present and anticipate the future to promote positive change for the community and the broader ecosystem.

As a key intersection, this space became a node for a variety of meeting points, each offering different levels of enclosure based on the user's preferences and needs. Photography Credit: Aaron Thompson

In the case of CPC, our thoughtful design of their headquarters not only enhances the daily activities of staff and volunteers but also contributes to the vibrancy and wellbeing of the local neighborhood. By creating a space that promotes holistic wellness and encourages collaboration, the project goes beyond aesthetics to make a tangible impact on the community.

Central to the design narrative is the concept of behavior-based performance. Every aspect of the space is carefully crafted to drive behaviors that align with CPC's goals of inclusivity and empowerment. From the flexible event spaces that adapt to different programming needs to the alternative work points that promote autonomy and collaboration among staff, the design prioritizes functionality and purpose above all else.

The color and composition of several large-scale graphics and installations were used to create a sense of place and connection. Photography Credit: Aaron Thompson

As the project nears completion, its impact on the community is already evident. Recognized by political figures for their contributions to the neighbourhood, the CPC Community Center stands as a testament to the power of design to bridge communities and cultures. Through its welcoming and inclusive spaces, it serves as a ray of hope and empowerment for all who walk through its doors.

In a city as diverse as New York, projects like the CPC Community Center remind us of the importance of design in creating spaces that not only serve but uplift entire communities. By embracing principles of integration, inclusion, and empowerment, this project sets a new standard for community-centric design, one that celebrates the richness and diversity of the human experience.

Materiality and form blend to represent solidity, warmth and growth. Photography Credit: Aaron Thompson