Cathedral of Saint John the Divine

Demian Neufeld Photo 00003

Cathedral of Saint John the Divine

For the last three decades, Ennead’s ongoing work at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine has included interior and exterior renovation as well as the transformation of the entire historical campus. The most recent project to be completed is the new copper roof designed to protect the world’s largest Guastavino tile dome at the heart of the Cathedral.

Grounded in extensive research about the historical and technical issues related to the planning, design, and construction of the buildings of the Cathedral’s campus, called the “Close”, Ennead has worked closely with the leadership of the Cathedral to support their ongoing stewardship. Through our research we have examined the shifting vision, layers of authorship, and incremental construction which have evolved over more than a century into a rich and complex ensemble of buildings and landscape—today an architecturally unique and invaluable precinct in the City.

Demian Neufeld Photo 00204
Demian Neufeld Photo 00104
Demian Neufeld Photo 00070 dome sm
716255fu hist cathedral

Extensive water infiltration due to the failing of successive short-term membrane roofs over the beloved (though technically temporary) Guastavino tile dome served as the impetus for a series of studies conducted by Ennead and our consultants. These studies ultimately led to the strategy of designing a longer-term batten-seam copper roof that fit in with the language of the adjacent historic copper roofs of the choir (renovated by Ennead in an earlier phase of work) and the nave. Care was taken to allow the tile dome with enough flexibility to expand and contract with the seasons. The new roof could easily last 100 years with proper maintenance, although in “cathedral time” this is just one step toward a possible future completion of the Crossing.

Demian Neufeld Photo 00145 best

Located in Morningside Heights along with other prominent institutions such as Columbia University, Barnard College, the Jewish Theological Seminary, and the Manhattan School of Music, the Cathedral is part of what was conceived of as the “Acropolis of the New World”. The Cathedral occupies three city blocks between Amsterdam Avenue and Morningside Drive north of Cathedral Parkway (110th Street) and contains six landmarked historic structures in addition to the cathedral church itself – all of which Ennead has touched to some degree. Significant projects include the renovation and expansion of the collegiate gothic style K-8 Cathedral School and exterior renovation of the Diocesan House, a mixed-use office and residential building. Ennead works closely with the various stakeholders in the cathedral community as well as the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to guide the preservation and revitalization of these buildings.

Demian Neufeld Photo 00085


2022 (Dome)
New York, NY
14,750 GSF (Crossing/Dome)


Ennead Project Team
Richard Olcott, V. Guy Maxwell, Kevin Seymour, Charles Brainerd, Darla Elsbernd, Sam Johnson
Silman, Building Conservation Associates, Inc., James R. Gainfort Consulting Architects, P.C., Hypsometric
Demian Neufeld