Santiago Calatrava Rebuilds 9/11 Struck St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine

Santiago Calatrava, a Spanish engineer and architect, is rebuilding the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in New York City. After being destroyed in the 9/11 attacks, the church’s reconstruction began in 2015. It is now expected to be completed in 2022. The design of the new structure is inspired by the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in Istanbul, which was formerly the Church of Hagia Sophia. This mosaic was a key factor in the creation of the original architecture of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church.

The architect claims that the architecture was created from the idea of a “metamorphisis of the images of Virgin as the Throne of Wisdom” and making it into a Temple of the Church. The architect explains how Christianity introduced anthropomorphism into architecture in the same way that the Byzantine churches included the cross shape in the plans of their churches. The architecture was designed using a detailed study of the relationship between numbers and Byzantine architecture. Hagia Sophia’s dome had a similar number of ribs, which has been translated into St. Nicholas’s.

Pentelic stone is used for the facade. Translucent cutouts allow light to shine through the church at night. Pentelic stone is used to symbolize the Parthenon. According to the architect Hagia Sophia, it is the Parthenon of Orthodoxy.

Beyond being practical, architecture can also have intrinsic symbolic value. This is when a symbol, or message, that is sent to posterity, cannot be written down. This is how Hagia Sophia’s message reached us today. — Santiago Calatrava

Although the project was completed in 2014, it failed to progress after costs exceeded the budget. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America ran out of funds and the project was abandoned. Construction was resumed in 2020 after financial support from a new nonprofit called the Friends of St. Nicholas 2020.

Courtesy of Calatrava

Recently, the architect revealed the designs for the UAE and Qatar Pavilions at Expo 2020 in Dubai. The UAE Pavilion, measuring 15,000 square metres, is a symbol of movement and has been designed with carefully planned lines and spaces that blend in with the surrounding greenery, shaded arcades and cantilevered wings. The Qatar Pavilion is, however, inspired by the four elements on the Coat of Arms of Qatar and will feature two main galleries as well as exhibition spaces. Visitors will be able to engage, inclusive, and interact with the environment.