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A Chance of a Lifetime for Architects After Notre Dame Fire

France seeks designs for new spire
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2019 12:54 PM CDT
The spire starts to topple on Notre Dame cathedral in Paris on Monday.   (AP Photo/Thierry Mallet)

(Newser) – The world watched, horrified, as Notre Dame’s spire toppled in the flames Monday. Two days later, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe is already envisioning a new one, "adapted to the techniques and the challenges of our era," per the BBC. All that remains of the spire erected in the mid-19th century by architect Viollet-le-Duc is a "battered" copper statue of a rooster that sat atop it, according to France's culture ministry. Architects from around the world will therefore be invited to submit new designs. "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 … or, as is often the case in the evolution of heritage, whether we should endow Notre Dame with a new spire," Philippe said, per the Guardian.

Viollet-le-Duc's wood and lead spire replaced one erected in 1250 and removed between 1786 and 1791 as a result of wind damage, reports the Washington Post. Viollet-le-Duc also restored the church's western facade, including the sacristy burned by revolutionaries in 1848 and statues of kings beheaded during the French Revolution, per the Post. But the spire seemed personal for him. One of 12 copper statues of apostles erected at its base—that of Saint Thomas, the patron saint of architects—was said to have been carved in the architect's likeness. It alone faced the spire rather than the city of Paris until days before the fire, when the statues were removed for restoration for the first time in more than a century. (Read more Notre Dame Cathedral stories.)

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