Spanish architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava is rebuilding World Trade Center’s St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York City. The church, which was destroyed during the 9/11 attacks, began its reconstruction process in 2015, and is finally reaching completion in 2022. The new structure's design is inspired by a mosaic of Istanbul's Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque, formerly the Church of Hagia Sophia, which was one of the fundamental factors in defining the original architecture of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.
According to the architect, the architecture was developed from "the idea of a metamorphosis of the images of the Virgin as the Throne of Wisdom "Sedes sapientiae" and turning it into a temple of the Church". Just as the Byzantine churches introduced the shape of the cross in the plan of the churches, along with the order and proportions of the human body, the architect explains how anthropomorphism was introduced into architecture through Christianity. An in-depth study of the relationship between Byzantine architecture and numbers was also used for the design of the architecture; the number of ribs in Hagia Sophia's dome has been identically translated into the ribs in St. Nicholas.
The facade is made of Pentelic stone with translucent cutouts that release dim lights from the church at night. The use of Pentelic stone symbolizes the Parthenon, which according to the architect, Hagia Sophia is the Parthenon of Orthodoxy.
Architecture, beyond being linked to human uses from a practical point of view, 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 symbolic message, which will reach posterity. It is in this way that the message of works such as Hagia Sophia has reached our days. -- Santiago Calatrava
The project broke ground end of 2014, but after the completion of its 50-foot dome in late 2016, costs exceeded the intended budget, which caused the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to run out of funding, failing to move forward. In 2020, construction resumed after the financial support of a new nonprofit titled the Friends of St. Nicholas in 2020.
The architect has recently unveiled the designs of both the UAE & Qatar Pavilions at Expo 2020 in Dubai, UAE. The 15,000 square meters UAE pavilion stands as a "symbolic interpretation of the flow of movement", designed with carefully curated lines and spaces that blend with its surroundings of greenery, shaded arcades, and cantilevered wings. The Qatar Pavilion, on the other hand, is inspired by the four elements represented on the Coat of Arms of Qatar, and will include two main galleries and exhibition spaces, providing visitors with engaging, inclusive, and interactive environments.