Tomorrow (Saturday, March 14), Trinity Church will continue the groundbreaking process of inviting the Lower Manhattan community to help determine the form and use of the new skyscraper it will soon erect in the Financial District. This dialog began two weeks ago, on February 28, when dozens of area residents gathered at St. Paul’s Chapel to share insights and opinions as to what the new building, which will soon rise at 74 Trinity Place, should become.
Trinity calls these gatherings “charrettes,” from an old French word that denotes a meeting at which ideas are shared, designs are shaped, consensus is formed, and a course of action is mapped out. The second of the five monthly sessions will take place tomorrow at St. Paul’s beginning at 10:00 am.
“What we really want you to do is brainstorm,” said the Rev. Dr. Bill Lupfer, Trinity Church’s new rector, at the start of the February 28 session. “Listen to other voices and listen to your heart.” Architect Fred Clarke, of the firm Pelli Clarke Pelli (which will design the structure), added, “we’re starting over. This process begins as messy and unformed, but turns out to be logical and clear and linear. And it results in a building.”
Nearly 100 participants attended the February 28 session, where they circulated among five tables, organized by broad categories of proposals: ideas related to the arts, education, athletics, gathering spaces, and community outreach. The 100-plus proposals that were discussed included an open-air rooftop theater, a club space for children, a soup kitchen, a performing arts center, a basketball court, and a swimming pool. Among the attendees was Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, who said, “there’s nothing better than a discussion of our local issues.”
James Gomez, a Lower Manhattan resident and member of Trinity’s congregation emphasized that these meetings are open to everyone who is interested in contributing ideas. “One of the ways in which Trinity defines itself is, as the community of everybody touched by the church, directly or indirectly. That means residents, workers, students, visitors, literally everybody with a stake or an interest in how this building turns out. It’s not just the Trinity congregation, but the broader Lower Manhattan community, that is being invited to contribute ideas.”
“Bill Lupfer has incited a real community conversation about rebuilding 74 Trinity Place,” observed Bob Schneck, a Lower Manhattan resident and member of Community Board 1. “The question is how to replace that structure in a way that serves the best interests of people who live and work in Lower Manhattan. The process is transforming architecture into a way to represent the local community, and to build community.”
“This is intentionally inclusive,” Mr. Gomez reflected. “The process actively seeks to invite all stakeholders to the table to participate as equals, and to create a result from their decisions that were based on every voice being heard. It comes from a genuine desire to do something special, unique, and impactful in Lower Manhattan, which will hopefully serve as an example for other projects.”
The invitation to help reconceive the development of 74 Trinity Place (and the smaller building next to it, 68 Trinity Place) may represent a dramatic break with the initial, 2013 plan for the site. Under that proposal, Trinity Church had decided to tear down the 25-story office building behind the house of worship that has for decades housed its parish office, a highly regarded preschool, and other tenants. Trinity had intended to replace the buildings with a 32-story tower that would contain up to seven floors for church use at its base, and 25 floors of residential units above.
These expectations may now evolve into an entirely new plan, however, given Rev. Lupfer’s challenge to the Lower Manhattan community. “We are going to go out into the street, and we’re going to talk, and we’re going to listen, and then we’ll bring that back into our conversations here,” he said in a January 25 sermon. “We [are] ready to speak the language of the street and learn from our neighbors,” he continued. “That’s the way that Trinity meets the economic injustice of this world.”
Tomorrow’s charrette at St. Paul’s Chapel (209 Broadway, at the corner of Vesey Street) will run from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm. (Breakfast and lunch will be served.) The session will be hosted by the Rev. Lupfer, and will include architects from Pelli Clarke Pelli. (Three additional charrettes are scheduled for May 2, June 6, and July 7, all at St. Paul’s chapel and all beginning at 10:00 am.)
For more information (or to R.S.V.P. for tomorrow’s session), please call 212-602-0736 or click HERE.