Calatrava redesign of Greek Orthodox Church destroyed in 9/11 attacks opens

Images courtesy of Santiago Calatrava
A redesign of the St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed by the collapse of the Twin Towers during the 9/11 attacks in New York, has reopened to the public.

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava’s design references the Greek Orthodox liturgy, Byzantine architecture and the church’s connection to the greater World Trade Centre Memorial site.

The church sits at 25ft above street level, rising slightly above the canopy of the World Trade Centre Memorial’s oak trees. Its exterior consists of four solid stone-clad towers that form a square that holds a dome-shaped building – a design inspired by Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia. It has 40 windows and 20 illustrations of prophets whose images alternate between the dome’s ribs.

Alternating bands of grey and white marble clad the corner and two west-facing towers, inspired by Turkey’s Chora Church. The structure’s full exterior is made of Pentelic marble, referencing the Parthenon in Athens.

Santiago Calatrava said: “To see the St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine finally open is emblematic of lower Manhattan’s storied future and defining past.

“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.”

Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, said: “This Shrine will be a place for everyone who comes to the sacred ground at the World Trade Centre, a place for them to imagine and envision a world where mercy is inevitable, reconciliation is desirable and forgiveness is possible.

“We will stand here for the centuries to come, as a light on the hill, a shining beacon to the world of what is possible in the human spirit, if we will only allow our light to shine before all people, as the light of this shrine for the nation will illuminate every night sky to come in our magnificent city.”

The original St Nicholas church opened in 1916 and groundbreaking for the replacement began in 2015.

The project was due to be completed in 2018, according to a New York Post article from 2017, but was delayed due to a financing dispute between Skanska USA and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, as reported by The Architect’s Newspaper.

Calatrava also designed the World Trade Centre Transportation Hub, which is also located at the World Trade Centre campus.

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