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Charette #3: Moving Forward

Architect Frank Clarke speaking at charette #3. 

More than seventy-five Trinity parishioners, staff, and neighbors gathered at St. Paul’s Chapel Saturday for a third charette, or community conversation, about the office, ministry, and community space Trinity will build to replace the current structure at 68/74 Trinity Place. The building is scheduled for demolition within the next several months.

The first charettes were about “blue sky” dreaming for the new space, the Rev. Dr. Bill Lupfer, Trinity’s rector, said. The next parts of this process are about how to narrow those dreams into a building.

“The way we do that is slowly,” he said. “When you’re on holy ground, you slow down.”

At the first two charettes, the architects divided participants into groups and compiled lists of the types of activities participants said they’d like to see the new building used for.

Activities fell into one of six large categories—gathering, community outreach, wellness and fitness, arts and communications, and education. The wish list included spaces for everything from a swimming pool, basketball court, and black box theatre to art studio space, galleries, and a community restaurant that employs young people to give them job skills. These new spaces would be added to the list of rooms the parish used in the former building and will need in the new—small meeting rooms for Sunday school, large gathering spaces for the whole congregation, and dedicated classrooms for Trinity Preschool.

At Saturday’s charette, Fred Clarke of Pelli Clark Pelli and a team of designers from the firm led the participants in a mini-class in architectural design as they showed what it takes to try to fit the wishes of the parish and community into a brand new building. 

“A process this careful can tend to make things look easy, but it’s definitely not that easy,” Clarke said.

Using the wish list of spaces from the earlier charettes, the designers described how they calculated the amount of floor space each room would need.

The architects were careful to mention how certain regulations for hall space, elevators, restrooms, and preschool access helped determine how much net space the building had for activities and how that affected the building’s organization. 

The most important floors on which the rest of the design hinges are the entrance floors. The new building will have three entrances—the 74 Trinity Place entrance, the entrance above accessed via the bridge above Trinity Place and called the Broadway entrance, and the entrance accessed from Greenwich Street.  

Then, like fitting together a complex 3D jigsaw puzzle, the architects showed many possibilities for how the different types of activity rooms could be placed in the new building. They presented both individual floors as well how they would look stacked together in floor-by-floor diagrams.

During questions and answer periods, participants from the neighborhood and parish asked about the possibility of keeping the current building and retrofitting it or using the current façade for a new building. Fred Clarke pointed out the decision to tear down the current building has been made, using the current façade would seriously limit how the interior of the building could be used (eg., window spaces might not line up where windows would be need).

Others urged the architects to use as little glass and steel as possible in the new building, asked the architects to make sure there was enough meeting space for crunch times, and wanted to knowhow Trinity was making sure the building could meet needs that can’t be foreseen now.

Clarke answered each question and assured everyone that the design of the building would reflect the neighborhood and not be a building that’s just “about itself.”

More charettes will be held over the next few months to further discuss the use of the space, layout and design.  

To learn more about the charettes or watch Saturday’s charette in its entirety, visit

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