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France announces competition to rebuild Notre Dame’s spire

Smoke and flames rise during a fire at the landmark Notre-Dame Cathedral in central Paris on April 15, 2019, potentially involving renovation works being carried out at the site, the fire service said. (Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS GUILLOT/AFP/Getty Images)

PARIS — France’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has announced an international architects’ competition to rebuild, and perhaps refashion, the fallen spire of Notre Dame cathedral.

The spire, which was added during a 19th-century renovation of the 850-year-old Paris cathedral, collapsed early into the fire that engulfed the medieval landmark on Monday evening. It was nearly 300 feet tall, with a structure made of wood and lead.

Speaking after a cabinet meeting held by President Emmanuel Macron on reconstruction plans, Philippe said that the competition “will allow us to ask the question of whether we should even recreate the spire as it was conceived by [architect Eugene] Viollet-le-Duc,” reported Reuters.

“Or if, as is often the case in the evolution of heritage, we should endow Notre Dame with a new spire.”

Macron, in a televised address to the nation on Tuesday, said that he wants the cathedral to be rebuilt in 5 years and that it should be “even more beautiful.”

Restoration expert Frédéric Létoffé, the head of the group of companies for the Restoration of Historic Monuments, said at a news conference also on Tuesday that he thinks it will take longer, at around “10 to 15 years.”

Renovation costs have yet to be estimated, but donations are inching towards $1 billion, with $700 million coming from France’s three richest families.

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