Notre-Dame fire: global call for architects to design new spire

Oscar Cross
April 17, 2019

The world continues to mourn the news of Paris' famed Cathedral of Notre Dame catching fire early Monday evening, prompting scores of reflections and tributes for one of the world's most grand architectural achievements.

More than $1 billion has been pledged to the restoration of Notre Dame cathedral, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying he wanted to see the cathedral rebuilt in five years.

Presidential cultural heritage envoy Stephane Bern told broadcaster France-Info on Wednesday that 880 million euros ($995 million) has been raised so far.

A total of £760 million has already been donated by business leaders and ordinary worshippers towards the restoration of the Notre Dame Cathedral after it was ravaged by the fire.

Deputy Interior Minister Laurent Nuñez said the structure was in good condition "overall" but that "some vulnerabilities" had been identified in the stone vaults and the remainder of the ceiling.

Though "some weaknesses" in the 850-year-old structure had been identified, overall it is "holding up OK", Nunez said. Pierluigi Pericolo, in charge of restoration and security at the St. Donatian basilica in Nantes, said it could take two to five years just to secure Notre Dame, given its size.

The Friends of Notre Dame, a society founded to foster the preservation of the cathedral, has held concerns about the building's structural integrity for a long time.

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, said in a statement that first responders and city workers "formed a human chain" to recover any relics that could be saved from the cathedral.

A man and child believed to be dad and daughter pictured out the front of the Notre Dame Cathedral an hour before the fire.

Quasimodo was the cathedral's bell-ringer in Victor Hugo's 1831 novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". He called the structure "a part of us", referring to the country of France, and he asked for help repairing it.

A public appeal for funds drew immediate support from French billionaires and other private donors, as well as from countries including Germany, Italy and Russian Federation, which offered expertise. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, also tweeted a promise that Cupertino will be helping finance the rebuilding efforts.

"In terms of security, I doubt we could have done more, " Chauvet said.

While St. Boniface Cathedral was never restored to its former stature, Carriere also feels the global significance of Notre Dame will ensure it is rebuilt on a similar scale to the burned structure. More details to come.

Firefighers were able to prevent the fire from spreading to Notre Dame's two towers and belfry.

They include what is said to be the crown of thorns worn by Jesus before his crucifixion and a tunic King Louis IX is said to have worn when he brought the crown to Paris.

Rescuers formed a human chain at the site of the disaster to evacuate as many artifacts as possible, which were then stocked temporarily at the Paris town hall.

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