Ng Shin Gung,  Chinese Temple

San Jose, CA

SIZE: 2,116 s.f.

DATE: 1991

COST: $473,000

This unique project is the reconstruction of Ng Shin Gung, the original Chinese Temple of Five Gods which existed in San Jose's historic Chinatown. The original temple, constructed in 1864, was razed in 1948, but the altar and many artifacts, including actual pieces of the structure, were stored.

MBA Architects began the initial historical research and reconstruction drawings pro-bono in 1974; it was not until the late 1980s that the project acquired a suitable sponsor and took form. The design and reconstruction of the temple was based on historic photos of both the interior and exterior. Forensic evidence from the existing pieces of ornamentation and columns aided in establishing the authentic proportions and form. The whole building was subtly reconfigured to comply with modern codes and provide handicapped access.

In 1991 the construction of the temple was completed. It incorporates quality materials, custom shaped trim pieces, mahogany wainscoting and custom milled extra tall paneling to accommodate the ceiling heights. Windows and doors were custom manufactured and many pieces, including exterior corbels and the stair balustrade, were copied from original pieces too decayed to be reused. Original pieces of the building including the four carved balcony columns and the knee braces were installed in their original configuration.