St. Patrick's Cathedral

Architect:  Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects  (MBB)

Owner: Trustees of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

Location: New York, New York

Project site: Historic structure or district

Building program type(s):  Religious Worship

Driven by social, ecological, and economic value, the 21st-century renovation of New York City’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral—the prominent 1870s religious landmark by James Renwick Jr., which was last renovated in 1949— achieved a 29 percent reduction in annual energy use and stabilized significant historic fabric while each year welcoming 5 million-plus visitors. Design solutions combined stringent conservation methods, 10 geothermal wells, fully integrated new mechanical systems, and strategic architectural interventions to enhance worship and functionality. Additions of modern glass doors and structural glass walls supported sustainability goals, creating an energy-saving enclosure, improving uses of the 1906 Lady Chapel, and enhancing visitor comfort while maintaining views of historic interiors, stained glass, and structures. The nine-year, $177 million effort impacts the entire city block-sized campus. Preservation of failing marble, stone, plasterwork, and stained glass stabilized and improved original materials. New ancillary spaces create expanded social and worship opportunities, and 1960s-era mechanical equipment has been completely replaced. Long-concealed original elements were restored or re-created, with deference to Renwick’s neo-Gothic details and design intent. As reported in the New York Times, “trustees of the 138-year-old building, the centerpiece of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York,” wanted the church to maintain its historic fabric, even as major systems were upgraded and “it was going green.” Offering valuable post-occupancy lessons for making historic places effective, relevant and resilient, the wide-ranging conservation and retrofit improvements to St. Patrick’s Cathedral created sustainable building systems and functionality with a focus on long-term, change-ready solutions. In this way, leadership invested in not only “the most sustainable, cost-effective, long-term options,” but also those “that best align with the greater good of the city, community and earth— not just today, but for generations to come.”

"An exceptional engineering feat with a second glazing on the stain glass and implementing geothermal in a tight confined space going thousands of feet through bedrock to accomplish its goals." -Jury statement

Additional information

Project attributes

Year of design completion: 2015

Year of substantial project completion: 2017

Gross conditioned floor area:  148,076 sq ft

Gross unconditioned floor area: 0 sq ft

Number of stories: 8

Project Climate Zone: ASHRAE 4A

Annual hours of operation: 6935

Site area: 92,000 sq ft

Project site context/setting: urban

Cost of construction, excluding furnishing: $177 million

Number of residents, occupants, visitors: 5 million

Project Team

Architect: Murphy Burnham & Buttrick Architects (MBB)

Code Consultant: William Dailey

Construction Manager: StructureTone Inc.

Construction Specifications: Aaron Pine

Cost Consultant: Christopher Slocum

Energy Consultant: Northeast Energy Services

Engineer - Geotechnical, Surveyors: Langan Engineering & GB Geotechnics USA Inc.

Engineer - Geothermal Well Drilling Subconsultant: Samuel Stothoff Company

Engineer - Electrical Subconsultant: B&G Electrical Contractors

Engineer - MEP, Acoustics: Cerami & Associates

Engineer - Mechanical Subconsultant: Lane Associates

Engineer - Commissioning: Aramark

Engineer - Structural: Silman Associates

Geothermal System Consultant: Landmark Facilities Group, Inc.

Geothermal Well Consultant: PW Grosser

Landscape Architect: Robin Key Landscape Architecture

Owner’s Representative: Zubatkin Owner Representation


Nancy Clanton, Clanton & Associates

Paul Mankins, FAIA, Substance Architecture

Christiana Moss, AIA, Studio Ma

Christoph Reinhart, MIT

Allison Williams, FAIA, AGWms_studio

Image credits

COTE StPatricks1 John Baer

John Baer

COTE StPatricks2 Whitney Cox

Whitney Cox

COTE StPatricks3 Floto Warner

Floto Warner

COTE StPatricks4 Elizabeth Felicella

Elizabeth Felicella

COTE StPatricks5 Whitney Cox

Whitney Cox