Trinity Church continued its ongoing experiment with radically inclusive dialog about the structure it plans to build at 74 Trinity Place, with a community meeting last Saturday. Held at St. Paul’s Chapel, the four-hour session drew more than 70 area residents, who contributed ideas about how the new building can serve the Lower Manhattan community.
“As you’ve probably heard, we have a building over here that we want your help and advice with,” began the Rev. Dr. Bill Lupfer, Trinity’s new rector. “But it’s more than just the building we’re talking about. We’re talking about programming as well. What kind of programs do you hope and dream of for the future?”
Dr. Lupfer emphasized the broad reach of the invitation to collaborate on the design and function of the new building, saying, “we’re asking not only people in our parish, but also our neighbors and people who don’t usually have a voice in this City, the hungry and homeless, who have been put aside for some reason or other and ignored. We want their voices to be heard as well.” He also reflected, “the only way we can really do that is in the community together, in listening carefully to what we are being called to do as a community here in Lower Manhattan.”
The rector went on to announce a new focus for plans at the site. “We started with four options,” he said. “The first was to keep the building at it is, but rehabilitate it. But that would cost $70 million or more to get what we have now. The second was to build a condominium above the parish space, but we would have to sell the ground beneath the building to do that.” He noted that Trinity’s board of directors (of which Dr. Lupfer is a member) had decided against either of these options. “That leaves two possibilities,” he said. “A rental apartment tower above the community space, or a freestanding parish space and community center.”
The March 14 meeting (called a “charrette”) focused on possible uses of this community space. Participants brainstormed about ideas ranging from multipurpose performance spaces and media labs to athletic facilities and a reading library, while architects from the firm of Pelli Clarke Pelli (who will design the project) took voluminous notes. This was the second such meeting (the first was held on February 28), and four more are planned for the months ahead. The next session is slated for May 2, and will concentrate on which uses should be given prime space at the building’s three main entrances: one on Greenwich Street, another on Trinity Place, and a third at the west end of a pedestrian bridge that will connect the structure to Trinity Church itself.
“Trinity Wall Street has been a focal point of the Downtown community since its founding in 1697,” Dr. Lupfer said afterward. “We are continuing that tradition by building a community parish center that will be open to all. By inviting our parishioners, our neighbors and our community leaders to weigh in every step of the way at this early stage of the design process, it is our hope that the center will reflect the community it serves.”
Community Board 1 chair Catherine McVay Hughes attended the March 14 session, where she said, “it is very brave and innovative of Trinity to open up the discussion of their headquarters design and invite the community, not once, but six times, to a public dialog and to listen to the needs to the community. This is rarely done.”
The invitation to help reconceive the development of 74 Trinity Place (and the smaller building next to it, 68 Trinity Place) represents 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 pre-school, 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.
To R.S.V.P for the upcoming May 2 charrette, or to post ideas online about possible uses for the community space planned for 74 Trinity Place, please click here.