Two years after a payment dispute between Skanska USA and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) shut down construction at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, things are finally back on track. On January 2, Governor Cuomo announced that work would soon resume under the oversight of a new board. Santiago Calatrava’s $80 million design for the new St. Nicholas in Manhattan's World Trade Center complex was revealed in 2013 and was set to replace the 1916 structure destroyed on September 11th. The structure, a ribbed central space that would be illuminated from within and ensconced between four burly pillars, was intended to seem both resilient and reference the Hagia Sophia. Although the GOA and city had been negotiating for years over the fate of the site and the GOA had signed a $1, 198-year lease, Skanska terminated their contract in 2017 after the Archdiocese failed to pay their outstanding bills. At last estimate, there was still a $40 million shortfall, and in April of last year, the Governor personally intervened—reaching out to potential donors—to try to get the project moving again. Now, construction will be overseen by the new, 13-member nonprofit board, “the Friends of St. Nicholas,” which is aiming to have the church finished in the next two years. The board will reportedly be responsible for raising money, overseeing the construction process, and holding audits to make sure the project stays on schedule. It should be mentioned that many of the board members (including the billionaire Gristedes owner John Catsimatidis, and former Chairman of the Battery Park City Authority Dennis Mehiel) were among those that Governor Cuomo reached out to April, according to the New York Post. Although there was no announcement of when work would resume, or if Skanska would return, a 2022 completion date would be four years after the originally planned opening. Although the project broke ground in 2014 and the church topped out in 2016, the site has sat vacant and draped with a tarp since December 2017.
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Three-sixty-degree photography on construction sites is sort of like Google Street View at a smaller scale—a worker walks through a job site with a monopod or sometimes even with a helmet-mounted set of cameras and captures the sights and sounds at all angles. And the technology has become a boon for Skanska, especially for projects like the Moynihan Train Hall and LaGuardia Terminal B in New York. “The resolution is just phenomenal,” said Tony Colonna, senior vice president of innovative construction solutions at Skanska of the new photography techniques, which increasingly can be done with off-the-shelf consumer products. “You can basically take anyone on a walkthrough without being at the site.” The 360-degree video is almost like being there, he reports. “You're in complete control. You can stop, look around, look up, look down. So you're not limited let's say with traditional photographs or traditional video to just see maybe where the camera was pointing. With the 360 you have complete flexibility.” It’s helped teams collaborate more fluidly and accurately across cities. “We might run into some sort of challenge on a site, and hey, you know what, the expert's at the other side of the country,” Colonna explained. “You can bring them onto the site. We give them this kind of experience and have that engagement to help solve a problem.” “These photographs are game-changing," said Albert Zulps, regional director, virtual design, and construction at Skanska. “You capture that space and then later you can actually look at versions of those photographs, go back in time, peel back the sheetrock and go into the wall.” Three-sixty-degree photography can also offer a tremendous time savings and improve worksite safety, he said. The photos integrate well with other tech, including software like StructionSite and HoloBuilder as well as mobile apps that allow people to locate themselves within a floor plan while taking a 360-degree photograph. In addition, it plays well with other emerging technologies Skanska is using, including models generated from 3D laser scans, VR headsets, and tech for making mixed reality environments. “What we've started to do is take that footage, and take those pictures, and you overlay them with the model,” said Colonna. “If you really want to think about how everything ties together, it is all about collaboration,” Colonna said. “When you look at the construction industry, you're trying to effectively manage a lot of different entities, from the design team, to the owner, to the builder, to all the contractors. What Skanska is doing as a construction manager is finding new ways to collaborate with all those teams. It's really about, how do we use more visual technology to help us work better together?”
A year and a half after progress was halted at the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in Lower Manhattan after the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) defaulted on its construction payments, Governor Andrew Cuomo is reportedly stepping in to get the church finished. Santiago Calatrava’s design for the church, an $80 million replacement for the 1916 building at 155 Cedar that was destroyed in the September 11th attacks, was first unveiled in 2013. That capped years of negotiations between the GOA and the city, which agreed to lease the land beneath the church to the Archdiocese for $1 a year, for 198 years. Construction on the ribbed, glowing church—Calatrava drew inspiration from the Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Savior in Istanbul—began in 2014, and the building topped out in 2016. While St. Nicholas was originally on track to open in 2018, Skanska USA, the church’s head construction firm, terminated its contract with the Archdiocese in December 2017 over the GOA’s failure to pay. As first reported by The Pappas Post, the Archdiocese had tapped a restricted pool of construction funds to pay off a mounting deficit, leaving it shorthanded when payment was due. The church has sat vacant and unfinished ever since. In a statement released last year, the Archdiocese installed a new board of trustees to oversee St. Nicholas, and formed the nonprofit Friends of St. Nicholas to fundraise for the church's completion. At the time, the Archdiocese called these "significant steps" towards resuming construction. The formation of the board follows recommendations stemming from an earlier internal investigation, with work from PricewaterhouseCoopers. Now, according to the New York Post, Governor Cuomo is reaching out to potential backers to make up the $40 million shortfall. Cuomo has reportedly been reaching out to donors with deep pockets to join Friends of St. Nicholas and fundraise to finish the church. John Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner of the Gristedes Foods supermarket chain, Democratic donor Dennis Mehiel, and Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas have all been contacted by Cuomo, according to the Post. According to a spokesperson for the governor’s office, Cuomo has also made overtures to the Port Authority as well.
Construction on the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox National Shrine at New York City’s World Trade Center was stopped last week, as the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) defaulted on their construction payments. As first reported by The Pappas Post, the Archdiocese’s mismanagement of already-allocated funds has left the future of the Santiago Calatrava-designed shrine in doubt. The reconstruction of St. Nicholas has been hampered by setbacks and controversies since the destruction of the original 1916 church on 9/11. After years of negotiations between the Archdiocese and the city government over plans for the World Trade Center complex, a formal, $1 a-year, 198-year lease for the church’s land was granted to the Archdiocese just this year. With the reveal of Santiago Calatrava’s ribbed, Hagia Sophia-reminiscent design for the project in 2013, it seemed like plans were finally moving ahead. The new shrine, with Skanska USA as the head construction firm up until this point, had broken ground without a formal lease in 2014 and topped out in 2016, with plans to open in 2018. Skanska has now broken with the archdiocese over their employer’s failure to pay. In an open letter obtained by The Pappas Post, Thomas Perry, the project director, wrote: “Effective December 5, 2017, Skanska USA Building, Inc. (‘Skanska’) has terminated its contract with The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (‘GOA’), on account of GOA’s defaults in making payment under the Owner Contract. Skanska is demobilizing from the Project site. “Skanska is continuing its pursuit of payment from GOA under the Owner Contract, together with any other remedies it may have on account of GOA’s breaches. We will advise you when there is progress toward a resolution with GOA.” According to The Pappas Post, the Archdiocese’s failure to pay is the symptom of a financial crisis rocking the GOA, as restricted funds have been used to pay off a widening deficit. Despite bringing in $30 million a year, as much as $3.8 million has allegedly been moved out of construction funding for the shrine, and the Archdiocese is reportedly facing bankruptcy, a charge that the GOA denies. Still, in the face of employee layoffs and the recent construction freeze, it seem that the group’s finances could be facing closer scrutiny by outside groups moving forwards. As a result of the stoppage, the Archdiocese has since retained the firms of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) and BakerHostetler LLP to independently look into how the allocated money was spent. The GOA has said that it remains committed to the church’s reconstruction.
The Gensler-designed Capitol Tower, a 34-story speculative office building developed by Skanska USA on the site of the former Houston Club in downtown Houston, Texas, has been awarded Platinum Pre-Certification under the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED v4 ranking system. According to a press release put out by Skanska, the project is one of only a handful of in-the-works buildings to earn the distinction under the fourth generation of the LEED system. The company also stated that it wished Capitol Tower to be the greenest building in Houston. The design includes a high-performance facade system, daylight harvesting technology to reduce energy use, 90 percent access to daylight and views for tenants, a garage with daylight occupancy sensors and a green roof, alternative vehicle charging stations, a rainwater collection system, and bicycle amenities to encourage cycle commuting, among other sustainable features. “Skanska made it clear from the beginning of the design process that they wanted this to be the most sustainable building in Houston,” Gensler principal Kristopher Stuart said in a statement. “We really pushed our team to move beyond anything we have done before to create a building that offers an exceptional work environment in a high-performance envelope that will dramatically reduce operating costs. The design also places an extraordinary emphasis on public spaces and pedestrian experiences which we believe will greatly enhance and enrich Houston’s urban fabric." Under the LEED system, pre-certification allows owners to begin to market the proposed green features of a project to prospective tenants who wish to occupy a LEED certified space. Earning a pre-certification is not a guarantee of actual LEED certification. While the pre-certification review is conducted in the same manner as a combined design and construction review, no credits or pre-requisites can be awarded. They are instead marked as "anticipated." In addition, only projects registered under the LEED for Core & Shell rating system can apply for pre-certification.