The site of 9/11 has seen significant change in the last decade, from the addition of David Childs’s redesign of the One World Trade Center to Santiago Calatrava’s PATH station. It looks like the site’s transformation is set to continue - Calatrava recently revealed images of the new St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, to be rebuilt across Liberty Street from Handel Architects’ September 11 Memorial. The images, showing a distinctly Orthodox Christian design, have already begun to attract criticism in the debate over placing religious institutions around the World Trade Center.
The original St. Nicholas Church was crushed on Sept. 11, 2001 as the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed. Besides the towers of the World Trade Center, it was the only building destroyed by the attacks. The $20 million design dismisses the look of the old parish church it’s replacing altogether, proposing a new non-denominational bereavement center.
Readers may remember that the proposal for an Islamic community center and mosque on the site two years ago ignited furious debate. This new design proposal purposefully considers this pre-existing controversy: the church's modern Byzantine design draws inspiration from traditional religious structures found in the east, many of which were of course used for Islamic worship. In fact, the dome will be comprised of 40 ribs, just like the dome of Hagia Sophia.
As Rev. Mark Arey, spokesman for the Greek Orthodox archdiocese stated, “The dome, invented by the Mycenaean Greeks, was a Christian form of architecture that was borrowed by the Islamic world,” he said. “There are going to be some wonderful teachable moments down the road.”
The new St. Nicholas is set to open in early 2016. Find out more about the design here.