7. The Architect That Was Chosen for the Shrine, and His Influence

Rendering of the new St. Nicholas Orthodox Shrine by Santiago Calatrava

The process of building the shrine has been a long one. One of the first steps was to find an architect with the right vision and talent. Proposals from thirteen architects were received. They were tasked, according to Archbishop Demetrios, with coming up with a design that would be harmonious with its surroundings, a design that is unique and contemporary but remains undoubtedly that of a church.

The selection committee decided unanimously that Santiago Calatrava, who was already building the nearby World Trade Center Transit Hub, was the right man for the project. As Demetrios recounts, Calatrava is said to have been inspired by the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, a basilica built in the 6th century and later converted into a mosque.