France will hold a competition among international architects to design a new spire for the Notre Dame Cathedral after the one atop the famed church collapsed in this week’s fire, the country’s prime minister said.
Edouard Philippe said Wednesday that officials will consider whether the new spire should replicate the one that fell in Monday’s blaze or have its own original design.
“This is obviously a huge challenge, a historic responsibility,” Philippe said. “Should we rebuild the spire envisaged and built by Viollet-le-Duc under the same conditions … (or) give Notre Dame a new spire adapted to the technologies and the challenges of our times?”
The destroyed 300-foot spire was not an original piece on the medieval cathedral. It was designed and built by Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc during his 19th-century restoration.
French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that he wants to see the 12th-century cathedral rebuilt within five years, but experts in French Gothic architecture said it could take at least 10 years to rebuild.
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Nearly $1 billion in donations have been pledged for reconstruction efforts. Engineers and historians are likely to put up a temporary roof to protect the cathedral from the elements, assess damage and salvage materials.
Structural engineers, stained-glass experts and stonemasons from across the globe are likely to head to Paris to help with restorations in the next few weeks.
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When Viollet-le-Duc restored the building, he “brought something to the character of Notre Dame,” said John J. Casbarian, dean emeritus at Rice University’s School of Architecture, who oversees the school’s program in Paris.
“He restored things in the spirit of the past, but he was also using more modern materials,” Casbarian said.
Stephen Murray, professor emeritus of medieval art history at Columbia University, worked on 3D scanning Notre Dame’s roof. He said he hopes the new roof is built with not only more fire-proofing but also an eye for architectural achievement.
“A great work of architecture does not just reflect the society it comes from,” Murray said. “It is a way for a group of people to project the future and who they are – their aspirations.”
Contributing: Kim Hjelmgaard in Paris; The Associated Press