Posts tagged with "St. Nicholas Orthodox Church":

Placeholder Alt Text

Governor Cuomo trying to jump-start stalled Calatrava World Trade Center church

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

Santiago Calatrava-designed World Trade Center church halts construction over nonpayment

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.
Placeholder Alt Text

Calatrava on the state of NYC architecture & his own controversial World Trade projects

The Real Deal recently scored an interview with Santiago Calatrava, the so-called "symphonist of steel" behind the upcoming (and wildly over budget) World Trade Center Transit Hub, and the nearby Saint Nicholas Church. In the interview, Calatrava explained how New York City's building code impacted the two projects’ designs, offers his thoughts on the World Trade Center master plan, and comments on the construction quality of the Transit Hub. Overall, the controversial architect lavishes praise on just about everyone—from Daniel Libeskind to Larry Silverstein to the Port Authority.
Placeholder Alt Text

Calatrava Offers First Glimpse of Liberty Park at World Trade Center When Unveiling Church Design

The cat is out of the bag. An elevated park, covering over an acre of ground at the Word Trade Center site, will ascend 25 feet above Liberty Street in Lower Manhattan. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had tried to keep the project—named Liberty Park—under wraps, but last month, Santiago Calatrava, the architect of the new St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, posted images of the building on his website, which also revealed the design of the adjacent park. The New York Times reported that the $50 million park, which will eventually overlook the National September 11 Memorial, will have multiple uses from a a forecourt for St. Nicholas to a verdant passageway between between the financial district and Battery Park City. It will also provide a practical function as a green rooftop covering the trade center's security center.

Joseph E. Brown, landscape architect and chief innovation officer of Aecom, will design the park, which will include 40 trees and shrubs, a curving balcony, several walkways, and a 300 foot long "living wall" composed of Japanese spurge, Baltic Ivy, among other plantings. It will also feature a grand staircase behind the church furnished with wooden benches and seating tiers.

Much of the design is subject to change, but construction on the park should be well on its way by early next year. The new St. Nicholas Church will barely resemble its former home that was destroyed on September 11th. The new structure will rise on a large bulkhead to cover the vehicle security center on Liberty Street. In stark contrast to the simplicity of the original building, the new structure gives a nod to the architectural heritage of Byzantine churches in Istanbul: the Hagia Sophia and the Church of the Holy Savior in Chora. According to the Times, Calatrava will design a dome with 40 ribs just like the Hagia Sophia, and detail the interior with "alternating bands of stone on the corners" which will "echo the walls of the Chora church." This decision to pay homage to the architectural tradition of religious institutions in Turkey is not only an aesthetic one. Many of these churches became places for Islamic worship at different points in history, and tailoring the design after these historic structures has greater and more meaningful implications about religious tolerance. Several years ago, protests ensured when a plan for an Islamic community center and mosque surfaced. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese struck a deal with Port Authority to lease the site for 99 years in exchange for allowing them to build at their original location on 155 Cedar Street.