Competition to Replace Notre-Dame's Spire Announced

17. April 2019
A mid-19th-century photograph by Charles Marville of the spire just completed by Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Two days after the spire of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame was destroyed in a fire, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced an international competition will be held for the design of the spire's replacement.

Acknowledging the spire's origins, Philippe told reporters this afternoon after a cabinet meeting held by President Emmanuel Macron, "The international competition will allow us to ask the question of whether we should even recreate the spire as it was conceived by Viollet-le-Duc." The destruction of the 12th-century cathedral's 19th-century spire has brought renewed interest to Viollet-le-Duc and how Notre-Dame is an assemblage of elements built at different times.

The fire at Cathedral of Notre-Dame on April 15 (Photo: Laure Petrucci/Wikimedia Commons)

Opening up the process to the international architectural community will surely be the beginning of many debates on what form and style the spire should take. Will the spire be rebuilt per Viollet-le-Duc's design? Will it try to recreate the spire that his replaced? Or will it go in a contemporary direction, along the lines of Santiago Calatrava's unbuilt design for New York City's cathedral?

Santiago Calatrava's unbuilt design for the roof and spire of the 120-year-old Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City
As reported by the Associated Press at 1pm Paris time:

The French prime minister has announced an international competition for architects to see if the spire of Notre Dame Cathedral should be rebuilt and how it should be rebuilt.
Edouard Philippe is speaking following a special Cabinet meeting Wednesday held by French President Emmanuel Macron, focusing on the reconstruction of the cathedral.
Philippe said the competition will also assess whether the spire should be "adapted to technologies and challenges of our times."
He said authorities have no estimate yet of the total cost of the renovation work. Macron said Tuesday he wants the cathedral to be rebuilt in five years.
Philippe said: "This is obviously a huge challenge, a historic responsibility."

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