When the dust has settled on a great tragedy such as the Notre-Dame fire, after the time for saving and the time for mourning has passed, a transition to rebuilding must begin.
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced this week that an international competition will be held to determine the architect who will design the new spire of the Notre Dame cathedral. But this is not merely a question of recreation; France is actually in the process of debating whether or not it wants to give the cathedral a brand new spire. In the words of Philippe, they must figure out whether, “as is often the case in the evolution of heritage and of the cathedral, [France] should give Notre Dame a new spire adapted to the techniques and challenges of our times.”
This debate has already sparked great controversy, but it will have to be sorted out soon if French president Emmanuel Macron wants to make his goal of rebuilding the church within five years, in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics. For Notre-Dame, new spire or old, this will be just another blip in her 850 year existence. It’s the French people, and the world, who will need to be placated.