Saint Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center in Manhattan. Bess Adler/Thornton Tomasetti.

Saint Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center



We provided structural design, façade engineering, and blast design services for a new shrine to replace a church destroyed in the September 11 terrorist attacks. We worked in conjunction with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in planning for and constructing this facility. The new church, which is located at the eastern end of Liberty Park, will include a meditation/bereavement space and a community center for visitors.

Steel and Concrete Structure
The structure is composed mainly of reinforced concrete and features an exposed structural steel dome over the nave, which consists of 40 separate ribs that cover a span of 55 feet. A concrete drum at the main roof level supports this expansive dome. The church sits atop below-grade service areas for the adjacent World Trade Center complex. A thick concrete transfer slab under the church’s structure distributes the loads down to the column grid, leaving the service areas undisturbed.

Layered Façade
The dome and drum form a double-skin façade, composed of thin panels of white translucent marble encased in laminated glass. The outermost layer functions as a glowing translucent rainscreen system, which will be lit from within the rainscreen cavity at night. The inner layer will serve as a weather barrier and allows light to diffuse from the interstitial and exterior spaces into the interior areas.

The façade engineers used advanced computational modeling to rationalize the dome and vault panelization, which allowed for use of an economic façade system with flat glass and stone panels in unitized aluminum frames.

Read More

Related Projects

Façade Materials & Systems

Double Skin

The double-skin façade has come to represent the ultimate in passive energy performance. Used primarily in Europe in the past, double skin is now being adopted worldwide for its ability to provide controlled natural ventilation, excellent solar control and high thermal performance – leading to substantial energy savings over time. Our building physics expertise and our experience with glazed façades enable us to provide design guidance to clients who wish to maximize energy performance by using a double skin.

Façade Materials & Systems

Glazing & Structural Glass

Glazing offers transparency that enhances a façade’s aesthetics and experience from both the interior and exterior. It provides light and a visual connection between the inside and outside. But designing with glass requires the deliberate balancing of light transmittance and the effects it has on energy performance and occupant comfort. Glazing design also requires careful consideration of material strength and safety. We provide a full range of design and engineering support for glazing and glass structures, from structural analyses to recommendations for aesthetics and energy performance. Our expertise in glazed-façade and structural-glass construction includes unitized aluminum frames, stick-built metal frames, steel cable supports, structural glass fin supports and glass stairs and balustrades.

Façade Materials & Systems


Dimensioned stone panels have long been in use as cladding, but only recently have new technologies drastically reduced the material cost of using stone. Anchoring methods that allow panels to be supported individually, rather than stacked, allows reduction in stone thickness and overall façade weight. Thin layers of stone can be laminated to other stones to improve strength and durability. Very thin layers of stone can be laminated to glass to create visually stunning back-lit stone panels. We have extensive experience with all types of dimensioned stone technologies as well as relationships with fabricators and quarries that enable us to help clients define and meet their aesthetic and performance goals.