After the tragic fire at Notre Dame a couple weeks ago, attention quickly shifted to reconstruction- but the tricky question of the best way to rebuild may take a great while longer to reconcile. Straightforward preservation calls for reconstruction with matching materials when adequate documentation is available and sources for those materials still exist (both should be true at Notre Dame.) A competing argument is embodied in an early proposal from Foster & Partners:
“In every case, the replacement used the most advanced building technology of the age,” Foster told The Guardian. “It never replicated the original. In Chartres, the 12th-century timbers were replaced in the 19th century by a new structure of cast iron and copper. The decision to hold a competition for the rebuilding of Notre Dame is to be applauded because it is an acknowledgment of that tradition of new interventions.”
Which line of thinking is most compelling to you? Please comment below.
Keith Thompson, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is a principal at Koch Hazard Architects in Sioux Falls and an AIA South Dakota board member.