Calatrava’s plans for a domed St Nicholas raise some eyebrows

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava recently released designs for the reconstruction of St Nicholas Church, destroyed in the World Trade Center attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001.

The plans call for a domed Byzantine-style structure that recalls the vaulted churches of Constantinople, including the Church of the Holy Saviour in Chora and Hagia Sofia. Like the latter, the new St Nicholas Church will be outfitted with 40 supporting ribs.

“The dome, invented by the Mycenaean Greeks, was a Christian form of architecture that was borrowed by the Islamic world,” noted Father Arey, a spokesman for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

Islam’s adoption of the dome structure has already led to unintended associations in the case of St Nicholas, with some New Yorkers taking to internet forums to claim that the design resembles that of a mosque.

Plans which emerged in 2010 to construct an Islamic community center two blocks north of the Trade Center ignited controversy and national debate on the constitutional right to worship.

Due to open in 2016, St Nicholas will include a nondenominational bereavement center. “It will be open to everyone: the believer, the unbeliever, the Orthodox Christian, the atheist,” continued Father Arey.

“Whoever you are, this is a space that you can come into and find some meditative solace.”

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