Modern renovations in store for Notre Dame de Paris

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Provided by ABH Architecture

ABH architect Alexandre Chassang's idea calls for a magnificent glass spire in place of the previous, traditional wooden one. "However, history cannot be frozen in time," he explains. "Notre Dame must write its own future."

by Gloria Zhu, Reporter

A little over one month ago, a fire struck Paris’s famed Notre Dame cathedral, damaging the central spire of the church and most of its now-collapsed wooden roof, along with endangering several valuable relics within the building.

Immediately, the world swept itself into an uproar, with social media posts and tweets about the event circulating rapidly around the internet. Several GoFundMe campaigns were set up, and many wealthy donors offered cash to contribute to the restoration of the church.

Bernard Anault, the chief executive of LVMH and the richest man in Europe, has pledged 200 million euros (224 million US dollars) to the cathedral’s renovation, and his offer has been matched by the Bettencourt-Meyers family, who owns juggernaut cosmetics company L’Oreal. The hundreds of millions of dollars donated will be more than enough to fund reconstruction of the church.

Late on Monday, May 22, the French senate passed a Bill approving the Notre Dame’s rebuilding. In addition, French president Emmanuel Macron has announced a worldwide competition that he says could lead to replacing the church’s destroyed spire with a “contemporary architectural statement.” In fact, restoration plans for the famed monument might not be as standard as one might expect.

Amidst the pouring donations and outcry, several architects and designers have come forth with new, modern ideas for what the Notre Dame’s new roof could be. Their vision: a futuristic makeover, a perfect blend of modern elegance and gothic architecture.

Alexandre Chassang, a member of ABH Architects, a French architecture firm, has proposed a magnificent glass spire mounted atop the church. He believes that the world must move forward, and art must move with it.

“Notre Dame is a part of the World architectural Heritage and its rich history,” Chassang said. “However, history cannot be frozen in time. Notre Dame must write its own future.”

His magnificent glass spire would represent a push into the future for an ancient building.

“I have put forward a vision of what could be the future of Notre Dame,” he said. “A spire made of glass triangles rising towards the sky and providing an abundance of natural daylight.”

Besides his proposal, other ideas include a park, terrace, and even a giant greenhouse roof (presented by French firm Studio NAB). In fact, there are supporters who encourage these architects’ same lines of thought: to move forward and move on instead of clinging to old ideas.

“Things come and go. Buildings are designed, built, and then are sometimes destroyed. If I were the French, I wouldn’t even attempt to reconstruct Notre Dame,” said upper school math teacher Bradley Stoll. “Put a new church there, fine. But don’t try and replicate [it]; don’t rebuild ‘Notre Dame.’”

Many believe that this is a chance for the church to move forward into the future.

“I think the symbolism of the burning represents the changing times, and people are scared of change and cling to things they know,” said Akshay Manglik (10). “While the past can and should be preserved, embracing change and the opportunity to add to one of the great architectural accomplishments of Western civilization is something that we should celebrate.”

Update: at time of publication, the French Senate voted to restore the church exactly as it was.