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The Committee on Design (COD) was founded to promote design excellence among members of the AIA, the broader design community, and the public at large, both nationally and internationally.

In April 2019, COD was in San Francisco for it's annual domestic conference. Check out the conference resources and the pictures!

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notre dame

  • 1.  notre dame

    Posted 04-16-2019 18:33
    am i the only one who wonders if a replica of notre dame is the best rebuild?

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 2.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-17-2019 18:42
    All options should be considered.  Restoration using original materials, renovation to look like original (using steel rather than heavy timbers, e.g., etc.) or something quite current and expressive of our times.  Nothing should be ruled out at this early stage.

    Judith Repp AIA
    Evergreen CO

  • 3.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-19-2019 13:44
    Judith makes two interesting points ("... or something quite current and expressive of our times. Nothing should be ruled out at this early stage), which I somehow missed earlier. First, I'm reminded of Norman Foster's Reichstag project for the new German parliament. I imagine there could be something similar at Notre Dame, and the idea of an occupiable attic space with views over the city could transform this iconic landmark. Second, I agree that nothing should be ruled out at this stage. That said, I suspect that general public opinion will run against anything other than a faithful restoration, most likely using new materials for the underlying structure, and hopefully incorporating a sprinkler system. I think that original materials (each beam in the attic was reported to be from a single tree) are out of the question from a sustainability perspective. In any case, the decision is probably best left to the French people, though I find this an interesting intellectual discussion. Thanks Wilbert for provoking it.

    Mark Careaga AIA
    Mark Careaga Architect
    Cambridge MA

  • 4.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-17-2019 20:43
    I think it should. Normally I'd hesitate to say that, but its presence is so valuable. I think it should be rebuilt, with some clear reference to/delineation between what was lost and what has been rebuilt. I think anything contemporary or modern for a rebuild would be horrible and insulting. I think the best we can do is rebuild as was and acknowledge that it is not original.

    Jessica Miller AIA
    President | Architect
    Lark Architecture
    Chicago IL

  • 5.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-17-2019 21:23

    It's always a tricky question. It's my understanding Europe tends to rebuild monuments after a destructive incident, while in the US building new is more common. I see it as an opportunity to review the building in question, and if there isn't much need for improvement (e.g. function, performance, public identity, etc.), rebuilding the original design is perfectly fine and good for the city. (Especially if the main structure is intact.)


    Peter Cho, AIA, LEED AP

    Technical Director

    +86 (21) 6135.1900 Main

    +86 (21) 6135.0869 Direct

    +86 (185) 1643.8781 Mobile

    One Museum Place, 3F
    669 Xinzha Road
    Shanghai 200041, China


  • 6.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-18-2019 09:19
    I guess I'm confused by the question – to me, "replica" suggests that the entire cathedral was lost and that we are looking at a full re-build. While the damage is significant and extensive, the limestone walls are still there, and the building is reported to be structurally sound. Obviously, it needs a new roof, and the stone vaults on the interior will need to be rebuilt. Replica or not, the choice is to rebuild and restore, or let the building fall to ruin. The latter option seems unfortunate at best.

    It's worth remembering as well that the spire that collapsed is a relatively recent addition by Viollet-le-Duc in the 1800s during a major restoration effort. Moreover, the design of the building itself evolved over time, starting in 1163 when the first stone was laid and continuing through the 1300s. It wasn't until 1220 that the ceiling was reconceived with rib vaults, reducing the loads on the exterior walls and allowing the windows to be much larger than originally conceived. It's a shame that the ancient timber roof structure is lost, but rebuilding it with glue-laminated timber or steel should be feasible, and I'm sure there's a way to re-build the spire. Thanks to the labor of love by the late Andrew Tallon, information on the construction as it existed a few days ago is available. It seems more a matter of financial and political will.

    Yes, I suppose a new roof and a new spire would be replicas of what had been there before – but what is the alternative?

    An 800-year history of Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral
    National Geographic remove preview
    An 800-year history of Paris's Notre Dame Cathedral
    Editor's note: This story was updated to reflect the recent news event of a fire at the iconic landmark. It was originally published in the May/June 2017 issue of National Geographic History Magazine. Notre Dame de Paris is perhaps France's most famous landmark: standing tall at the heart of the city for centuries, accepting the people's reverance one day, then facing their rejection on another.
    View this on National Geographic >

    The Images That Could Help Rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral

    The Atlantic remove preview
    The Images That Could Help Rebuild Notre-Dame Cathedral
    "Andrew was relentless at scanning full buildings," his colleague John Ochsendorf, of MIT, told me. "He would get on top of the vaults and under the roofs to capture the geometry." (A year before he died, Tallon posted a brief tour of the upper parts of the choir as a 3-D video to YouTube, embedded below.)
    View this on The Atlantic >


    Mark Careaga AIA
    Principal / Owner
    Mark Careaga Architect
    Cambridge MA

  • 7.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-18-2019 21:36

    I agree with Mark


  • 8.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-20-2019 11:50
    There are many alternatives to rebuilding the original vaults and roof. I can imagine something translucent or ephemeral going back instead of opaque vaults. What if a glow of reflected or filtered natural light could come through the roof as it does through the stained glass? Maybe laser beams of sunlight could be guided in strategically to traverse the inner walls and floor? We have the tech now to do much more than they did in the 12th century and that should be explored. I’m sure we will get to see exactly how broad the options are once the current world’s great designers put their hands to it.


  • 9.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-20-2019 14:08
    I hope Helmick is "the only one who wonders if a replica is the best rebuild". I strongly believe Notre Dame ought to be restored to the appearance it had before this tragic fire, as best it can be done. The best new fireproof structure should be employed with all new safety and practical improvements as appropriate, but the visible interior and exterior should be retained at all costs. The necessary money seems to be flowing in already. This ought to be an authentic restoration of a greatly beloved building, an iconic international treasure. It surely should not become a jury's consensus on a contemporary expression of today's culture, whatever that might be. There may someday be a place here for an addition "expressive of the culture of the day", but this is not that! This splendor must be restored not replaced.

  • 10.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-20-2019 15:20
    Maybe the best way to think through this is to honor the conceptual thought process of gothic architecture instead of the just the physical attributes. Gothic was revolutionary design in the Middle Ages, and was all about being true to the nature of material, structure and function - the necessary elements are not hidden but exposed, given ideal/beautiful form, and made key to the whole experience of the building (e.g. flying buttresses).

    Considering this holistic honesty as a key ideal at Notre Dame, the thought of replacing the roof and vaults with identical construction doesn't fit. The replacement would not be the original but would only look like the original. It would be about appearance only, not reality, and therefore directly contradictory to the essence of gothic.

    How would we proceed at Notre Dame if we thought like a medieval architect? I'm thinking: Use the latest and best construction technology of the age and the highest inspired human creativity to make the most honest and true and beautiful design to compliment (not copy) the original structure.

  • 11.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-22-2019 18:09
    The cathedral is UNESCO World Heritage Site #600. A historically accurate team must be employed, similar to the United States Department of the Interior Standards for Historical Preservation, Restoration, Reconstruction and Rehabilitation, to restore the site to it's accurate form.​

    Seth Trotter Assoc. AIA
    Sole Proprietor
    Prescott AZ

  • 12.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-22-2019 17:39
    While it is entertaining to imagine what would one do to 're-build' Notre Dame, it is also presumptuous. Why? The Catholic Church, the citizens of Paris, and the French nation have not invited others. Currently, I do not see why they would entertain anything than other than French 'opinions'... And I do not think they should. 

    Viva la France.

    William Jody Heady, AIA

  • 13.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-22-2019 22:56
    The French nation has invited the whole world to redesign the spire -

    Has UNESCO been overruled here? If so, perhaps it could be overruled regarding the roof and vaults too. Or maybe it could just develop an imagination. All options should be on the table. The roof and nave vaults at Notre Dame seem to be relatively basic compared to the rest of the building. Maybe there are better solutions.

  • 14.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-22-2019 23:01

  • 15.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-22-2019 23:18
    Norman Foster's Reichstag remodel is appropriate for the context of opening Germany up from a brainwashing machine; the restaurant on top of the Reichstag even has a good bell pepper salad. The narrative of Notre Dame has everything to do with transcendence and a bit of hedonism; removing darkness from that space with offend the rose windows and show a lazy attempt to honor the Almighty self evident God. Norman Foster is a world class Architect but in this instance is poorly considered. The tectonics of the spire need to address all three spires with world class spatial interventions to reconcile the Architectural pursuit of honoring God.

    Seth Trotter Assoc. AIA
    Sole Proprietor
    Prescott AZ

  • 16.  RE: notre dame

    Posted 04-25-2019 23:51
    Edited by Emma Tucker 04-29-2019 13:02
    Hitchhiker’s Guide Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’sGuide)
    wrote the attached pertinent reflection:

    Quote from Douglas Adams
    Edit: to add in image to original post - ET