Trinity Wall Street

New York, USA

Another outstanding project in New York (or rather two outstanding projects for the same client) is our work for Trinity Church (Wall Street), well known for its location, long history, and prodigious endowment (it still owns 14 acres, incorporating 5.5M sq. ft. of commercial space of the main financial district of Lower Manhattan). 



The first church community on this site received a Royal charter from King William III in 1696 and in 1705, Queen Anne added a donation of 62 acres of land along the wall that separated early Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam from the rest of Manhattan island – hence the name ‘Wall Street’, as this early city map, the Castello plan from 1660, clearly shows.

The church itself is the third church on the site, completed in 1846 to designs by Richard Upjohn and, until 1890, was the tallest building in New York City. The churches on the site have played a major part in the history of the US: Columbia University was founded on the church’s grounds as King’s College in 1754; George Washington and members of his government worshipped there; Alexander Hamilton (brought to most recent fame by the musical) and his wife are among prominent New Yorkers whose bodies are buried in the churchyard. 

A church has thus been there for nearly 350 years and in 1976, was registered as a National Historic Landmark. In 2001, during the 9/11 attacks, it narrowly escaped major damage; a 100-year-old sycamore tree in the church yard was knocked over by debris falling from the World Trade Centre. The church, miraculously, was unscathed.

Today, it flourishes as both a church and community centre, with more than 1600 members.

Trinity Commons
Trinity Commons - reception area 1



Renovation of the main church began in 2018 (supervised by MBB Architects, with whom we had worked closely on Park Avenue Synagogue), at much the same time as a new building, Trinity Commons (designed by Pelli Clarke & Partners, with whom we had worked on Yale University NUS). 

The furniture contribution in the church included 220 Assembly chairs, with kneelers, for the body of the nave and, in the vestry in the adjoining Manning Wing, a set of  30 Wykeham chairs and a large, three-part bespoke, demountable conference table.



Fitting out Trinity Commons, designed ‘to be a backdrop to the church - contemporary, exciting, forward-looking and also tied to its past’, was a very different prospect.

The five lower floors of this new office building located at 76 Trinity Place are now reserved for parish use and are connected to the churchyard over the road by a footbridge. Trinity Commons now buzzes as a community hub, where Trinity staff and volunteers host programs ‘tending to the heart, soul, mind, and body of each member of our community’. Today, there is a constant flurry of conferences, speaker series, voting and civic engagement workshops, fitness and well-being classes, dance, arts, music and writing courses. The building has generous facilities for athletics, art and music programs, classroom learning, meal sharing and much, much more. There is a large parish hall for conferences and meetings, a dozen private meeting rooms, art and dance studios, a full court gymnasium, a community kitchen and dining are all in the centre of Lower Manhattan.

Trinity Commons - Cafe table & LH 42 chairs
Trinity Commons - cafe

A large proportion of the furniture is supplied, if not designed specifically for the project, by Luke Hughes & Company.

Working closely with PCP on the reception area, there are now a series of café and break-out areas incorporating more than two hundred LH42 stacking oak chairs and matching LH42 commercial bar stools, based on a design that evolved specifically for this project (but has since been eagerly adopted by architects in both the US and UK (see Homerton College and Balliol College), together with a number of  ‘Trinity’ folding café tables, modular reception area sofas, folding low tables, banquette seating and a set of standard lamps. 

The principal room on the upper floor is the generously proportioned Parish Hall, now equipped for conferences, services, concerts, lectures. Additional mobile liturgical furniture is used outside the main church and includes a mobile altar, lectern, font and credence table – all of which can be tucked away in nearby cupboards. There is also a large demountable and mobile dais, similar to the construction and offering the kind of mobility we have provided at the cathedrals at Ely and Chester, and also Park Avenue Synagogue. The parish hall also includes a set of Casala ‘curvy’ high-density stacking chairs.

There are also a generous quantity of LH42 stacking oak chairs in a variety of finishes distributed around the other meeting and dining areas of the Commons, together with folding Athena tables. 


Everything was installed by February 2020, just a few weeks before Covid Lockdown. Since then, the Commons was granted a  2021 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects (NY) for Pelli Clarke & Partners and the work in the church celebrated in the form of a Faith & Form Award 2021 for MBB Architects.

(Photos: Parish Hall ©Colin Winterbottom; other photos ©Luke Hughes & Company)

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