Monday, April 15, 2019

Notre-Dame will be rebuilt again

In the aftermath of the fire in the Notre-Dame Cathedral of Paris, a piece in the New Republic points out:

Notre Dame’s spire was a nineteenth-century restoration by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, replacing an original that was taken down in the reign of Louis XVI. Most constructions, all cities, every culture, are constantly rebuilt in the midst of damage and loss. Mourning and renewal are linked together as long as the world goes on. Loss is its own meaning. And civilization is the story of rebuilding.
NBC News talks about the daunting task ahead:
Jonathan Foyle, an architectural historian and author, said a critical part of the restoration process will be to assess how damaged Notre Dame’s massive stone vaults were by the blaze. Extreme temperatures can cause calcination — a process that turns stone into powder, he said.

Then, there’s the possible damage caused by firefighters trying to extinguish the blaze: Dumping cold water on red hot stone can cause it to shatter and crack, Foyle said.

“It’s gone through a very complex trauma,” he said. “You’re going to need months to figure out whether it is safe enough to stay standing.” . . .

Still, he said there are French architects trained in medieval building techniques that would be up to the task of restoring this “pioneering giant of Gothic cathedrals.”

“This building has been through the French Revolution, the Huguenots and two world wars,” he said. “I have no doubt it will rise again.”

The rebuilding process could take two decades of painstaking work and restructuring, said Emily Guerry, a professor of medieval European history at Britain's University of Kent. . . .

[Architectural historian Jonathan Foyle] estimated that it will cost tens of millions of dollars and require an army of stone masons, glaziers, plumbers and carpenters.

Still, such a massive project could signal a “rebirth,” he said.

“In a way, projects like Windsor Castle — they look disastrous, and they are, but they give life to traditional trades,” he said. “Sometimes they can have a silver lining.”