Last Days

It would appear that Holy Trinity Chapel, aka The Catholic Center at New York University is about to be demolished. The spot on the southern side of Washington Square Park was gobbled up by NYU, which plans to build a shiny, newer building there to match the shiny new-ish Kimmel Center next door. I’ve got nothing much against the Kimmel building—it’s nice enough inside and out, if a bit bland.

The Catholic Center at New York University

I would never, however, accuse Trinity of being bland. Dwarfed, perhaps, by its neighbors, but not bland. It is extremely memorable in a squat, outmodedly futuristic kind of way, like a space ship made of concrete. (It was built in 1963, though no one seems to mention the architect.) But I have said more than once that I prefer ugly architecture to boring architecture, and while a lot of the detailing of Trinity is crap, this spigot won me over (sometimes it doesn’t take much). And even though I knew it wasn’t the most beautiful building on earth, I will admit I was prepared to be won over when I trudged through the snowy muck to see it this afternoon. Why? Because I have a soft spot for the sculptural ambitions of Brutalist architecture. Because even with the stained glass gone (here’s what it looked like) and the wrecking crews on the way, it has a certain dignity about it. And most importantly because it’s unique, and memorable. So yes, I will miss it though I never stepped inside.

Fare well, Trinity.



This entry was posted on Monday, January 19th, 2009 and is filed under architecture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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