The St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which replaces a church destroyed in the 9/11 attack, has officially opened at the World Trade Center site in New York. The building was completely redesigned by Santiago Calatrava. The Spanish-born architect created a space that directly addresses traditional Greek Orthodox liturgy while paying homage to the church’s relationship with the broader World Trade Center memorial site. After 22 years, the church finally opened to the public again on the day the Greek calendar celebrates the feast day of St. Nicholas.
The St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which replaces a church destroyed in the 9/11 attack, has officially opened at the World Trade Center site in New York
Heavily influenced by Byzantine architecture, the rebuilt structure is made from Pentelic marble—the same type of stone that makes up the Parthenon in Athens. The church’s form is defined by four stone-clad towers that support a large dome. This shape in particular was specifically inspired by a mosaic in Hagia Sophia: the Virgin Mary as the “Throne of Wisdom.” Through a series of watercolors, Calatrava slowly morphed the outlines and shapes in the artwork into the facade of the church.
“To see the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine finally open is emblematic of Lower Manhattan’s storied future and defining past,” said Calatrava. “I hope to see this structure serve its purpose as a sanctuary for worship but also as a place for reflection on what the city endured and how it is moving forward,” he continued. “Architecture can have an intrinsic symbolic value, which is not written or expressed in a specific way but in an abstract and synthetic manner, sending a message and thus leaving a lasting legacy.”
Images by Alan Karchmer