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February 2002
CUNY Responds: Rebuilding New York
CUNY Alumnus/Prize-winning Journalist Reports from Islamabad, Jalalabad, Kabul
City Tech Students Envision Rebuilding St. Nicholas Church
U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins Mulls Emergency Service of Verse
John Jay College and FEMA Address Urban Hazards
Helping Students Write about Trauma
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CUNY Law Practice In the Public Interest Since 9/11
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CUNY Counsel Elected Legal Aid Society Chair

Law Dean Glen Honored by State Bar

“American Art at the Crossroads”—
April Symposium at Graduate Center

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City Tech Students Envision St. Nicholas

St. Nicholas Church before 9/11
St. Nicholas Church before 9/11.

Saint Nicholas is the patron saint of all travelers, but the Reverend John Romas did not have to travel far for help after his church, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, was decimated on September 11.

Concerned about how to begin planning the new St. Nicholas—located at 155 Cedar Street, only 250 feet from where the south tower of the World Trade Center formerly stood—Romas looked to one of his longtime congregants, John Bourotoglou, and to the CUNY campus just across the Brooklyn bridge. Bourotoglou is an Architectural Technology adjunct professor at New York City Technical College, and Romas inquired whether his students would be interested in exploring the architectural options for rebuilding the church, which was constructed in 1832 (it became a Greek Orthodox church in 1916). Thus, City Tech's role in planning the future of Lower Manhattan assumed a religious dimension.

William Perez's model for St. Nicholas Church.
William Perez's model for St. Nicholas Church.

Students in a model-making class constructed a large-scale model of the area surrounding the World Trade Center site, including removable scale models of the twin towers and other buildings that were destroyed. About 30 students from an architectural design course then superimposed their models for a new St. Nicholas, all of course conforming with current municipal building codes.

In December, the students presented their work to a jury of architects who critiqued each of the designs. Among the jury members were Barbara Smith Mishara, the president of the Brooklyn Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, and architects who are members of the St. Nicholas congregation. Reverend Romas, who has ministered to the congregation for the past 17 years and who served as cantor for nearly as long before that, was on hand to review the submissions.

William Perez, center, with City Tech's Architectural Technology Chair Tim Maldonado and St. Nicholas's Rev. John Romas. Photos: Dominic Sarica.
William Perez, center, with City Tech's Architectural Technology Chair Tim Maldonado and St. Nicholas's Rev. John Romas. Photos: Dominic Sarica.
The design that seemed to receive the most unanimous praise was by second year student William Perez, 21. "He represented the traditional interior special requirements with a very successful contemporary exterior architectural treatment that related very well to the site," said Tim Maldonado, chair of the City Tech Achitectural Technology Department. Perez displayed two models a large-scale cut-away section clearly illustrating the nave, choir and the other interior spaces, and an exterior model showing how the church would appear during the day and how lighting would affect its appearance at night. His presentation also included computer-generated drawings showing plans, sections and elevations.

All the students were required to do extensive research on Greek Orthodox churches, including visiting several in the New York area. They also performed Internet research to locate classic examples as well as contemporary interpretations of Greek Orthodox edifices. A final research paper was required that delineated spatial relationships among the different areas of the church and other ecclesiastic requirements.

In order to rebuild the church in its previous location, the property owner of the adjacent site would have to sell some land to the church to get a green light. The archdiocese will use the City Tech students' work in its negotiations with the land owner. The Foundation for Hellenic Culture in New York (at 7 West 57 Street) and the Hellenic Cultural Center in Chicago will also display the models.