Reimagining Notre Dame’s spire

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Fires which struck the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris sparked an immediate outpouring of promises for funds to help rebuild the famed structure. French President Emmanuel Macron called for it to be rebuilt within five years.

And that’s triggered another debate, how should the building, started in 1160 and restored multiple times, look?

Frank Matero, University of Pennsylvania architecture professor, told Architectural Digest in May renovations should be carefully done without the an architect’s stamp on design. “I think the problem is that architects want their intervention to be visible.”

He may be right. Suggestions are coming forth about how the cathedral’s spire might look if it were updated. That includes Chris Craiker, a Napa architect. Craiker says he’s been a registered architect in Napa and Marin counties for 40 years and also past president of the Northern Division of the Building Industry Association.

He details his vision of the French landmark.

The famed cathedral at Notre Dame of Paris spiraled into flames on April 15th, 2019, causing international controversy. The destruction of the historical landmark sparked the French government to hold a competition to design a replacement spire. I felt inspired and motivated to provide my own design for replacement of the Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral Spire.

With various ideas and drawings emerging from numerous architects, many designs range from traditional Gothic architecture to rigorous religious interpretation.

I wanted to design something more contemporary. Utilizing lightweight transparent materials will keep the building fascinating and captivating. I wanted to jump in immediately on the day of the fire. People all over the world were starting to throw ideas on the internet. My intent was to do something more contemporary and edgy. The French are not afraid to do something new.

To create the new spire with a new interpretation, I designed the pointed tower to be comprised of multiple golden bands. The design will symbolize the original spire and the flames, allowing the channels and rings to be a remain forever in Paris’ history.

I felt the way the flames were reaching up to the sky was something that should be captured as a piece of art. It was my intention to recreate the image of that spire on fire. I call my design “The Rings of Joan d’ Arc.” I considered this to be the jewel in the tiara of the cathedral.

Some history is important here. Notre Dame means “Our Lady of Paris” in French. While the exterior is hand cut stone, most of the roof and the spire were of ancient timbers. It is estimated there is 52 acres of French Oak throughout.s Virtually, none of the cathedral’s roof was left from the April fire.

The original Gothic construction took place in the 12th century. This would be the third spire at the cathedral. Notre Dame’s original spire, which was also a bell tower, was taken down in the late 1700s. A second and current spire that burned was created in the mid-1800s.

While the inspiration and vision for the spire are designed, the actual engineering is under investigation.

I am designing the spire to be made from fireproof materials, probably carbon-based threads, while maintaining a super-strong base for support. Knowing that the structure has to fit the code compliance requirements for the historical renovation of the building, engineering is still in the works.

In the past, I have designed golf courses and marinas in Japan. I also was one of the designers of Hugh Hefner’s famed Grotto backyard pool. If chosen to recreate the Notre Dame spire, this would be my first project in Europe. I have visited the Notre Dame cathedral twice. My estimated budget would be 15 million or 16.2 million Euros to construct the spire.

If my design were chosen, I’d be very, very thrilled, of course. Every architect wants to have something special under their belt. I will be travelling to Paris in August to present my concept. If not selected I’d be honored to be a consultant on the project. If I can contribute, even in the smallest way, I’d be honored.

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