Personal Reflection on the Tragedy of April 15, 2019 at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France #Paris #Fire #NotreDame #Reflection #Architecture #CarpeDiemPosted: April 15, 2019
Reflection on the Tragedy of April 15, 2019
This week is Holy Week, when millions of Western Christians mark the death and resurrection of Jesus. Under normal circumstances, Notre Dame cathedral in Paris would have been preparing to display its holy relics to the faithful on Good Friday.
But as fire engulfed the sacred site on April 15, 2019, Catholics across the world reacted in horror and disbelief, particularly when the cathedral’s iconic spire toppled amid the flames.
For generations, Notre Dame Cathedral has been a place of pilgrimage and prayer, and, even as religion in France has declined for decades, it remained the beating heart of French Catholicism, open every day for Mass.
When something that is tragic like the Notre Dame Cathedral fire occurs, it is important to take time to reflect on what happened. First, I look at this tragedy as a Christian, then as the grandson of European immigrants, and finally as an Architect. I reflect on these recent events using three distinct but entwined lenses:
- As a Christian, I reflect on what it means to be Christian. Although imperfect, we are all put on Earth to accomplish great things. Some have more than others, but we all have our crosses to bear. As Easter approaches, for many Christians around the world who celebrate this holiest of days it is a time of reflection and hope of things to come. As Jesus said, you are not of this world (we belong to Him). When these events happen it also makes us aware of our fleeting earthly lives.
- As a grandson of Europeans, I feel a strong camaraderie with my neighbors in France. As technology helps the world shrink we are becoming global citizens. But as someone who has spent many summers and taken many trips to Europe (probably more than 30 trips over my four decades), I feel a strong connection to what happens in Europe. I have the same feeling in my stomach that I had when 9-11 happened in New York City. We take for granted that these beautiful structures will always be here with us. These events remind us that we must cross off trips that are on our bucket lists sooner rather than later.
- As an Architect, my primary objective is to safeguard the public. Sure, I love great design and inspiring spaces as much as the next designer. However, being an Architect means that we must put safety above all else. When these events occur, I cannot help but think how vulnerable we are. As Architects we are always trying to evoke safety and security into our projects – Many times decisions are made with money more than risk aversion. A 100% safeguard world is not possible, but I challenge my fellow Architects to consider ways that we can educate and confront our clients to ensure that all our buildings are safe. We are all human with earthly perspectives and we are all bound to mistakes as we manage economics with safety. Take for example, the Seton Hall student housing fires that changed safety for campus of higher educations around the country. Can this tragedy bring some good? Perhaps as leaders in our industry we can shape the safety and preservation of our landmarks and new building projects to ensure the safety of the occupants.
Churches, castles and forts are the primary reason I chose this profession. Whenever we lose a structure of significance it is like losing a loved one. Like life itself, our art and architecture must be cherished because it is all temporary after all. Carpe Diem.
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Frank Cunha III
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Frank Cunha III
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The Library of Birmingham (located in the UK) will comprise of 10 levels, with nine above ground and a lower ground floor. It is being constructed using 21,000m³ of concrete in the frame, enough to fill more than eight Olympic sized swimming pools. The frame is reinforced by 3,000 tonnes of steel reinforcement, the equivalent weight of around 35,750 average UK men. 30,000m³ of material, enough to fill 60,000 bath tubs, had to be dug out of the basement. The building will feature a spacious entrance and foyer with mezzanine, the gateway to both the Library and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, to which the new Library will be physically connected. There will also be a new flexible studio theatre, a lower ground level with indoor terraces, four further public levels and two outdoor elevated garden terraces. A ‘golden box’ of secure archive storage will occupy two levels of the building, within which the city’s internationally significant collection of archives, photography and rare books will be stored. A new state-of-the-art exhibition space will open up public access to the collections for the first time. The exterior of the building, from the first to the eighth floor will be wrapped with an intricate metal façade, echoing the tunnels, canals and viaducts which fuelled Birmingham’s industrial growth. Besides the Shakespeare Memorial Room and the new shared studio theatre with neighbouring Repertory Theatre, Birmingham’s 35,000m² new library will comprise a study centre, music library, community health centre, multimedia, archives, offices, exhibition halls and cafes. For the rest of the article click here. Text provided by Mecanoo Architecten.
The Bye House (Wall House) was designed by John Hedjuk in the 1970s, built posthumously (Groningen, The Netherlands, 2001).
John Hejduk (July 19, 1929 – July 3, 2000), was an Architect, Artist and Educator who spent much of his life in New York City. Hejduk is noted for his use of attractive and often difficult-to-construct objects and shapes; also for a profound interest in the fundamental issues of shape, organization, representation, and reciprocity.
Hejduk studied at the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture, the University of Cincinnati, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, from which he graduated with a Masters in Architecture in 1953. He worked in several offices in New York including that of I. M. Pei and Partners and the office of A.M. Kinney and Associates. He established his own practice in New York in 1965.
One of my favorite days is June 9, 2001, when I got married to the love of my life and received the book “Mask of Medusa” written by John Hedjuk from my great friend. It is a rare book and one of my prize possessions which I treasure (I love my wife too).
I love Architectural design theory and I love skate boarding; Peter Eisenman combined them both when he designed the 173-acre site on Mount Gaiás. The project neighbors Santiago de Compostela where the cathedral houses the remains of the apostle St. James, brought to Spain from Jerusalem after his death in AD 44. Since the eighth century, pilgrims have trekked to the medieval town to pay homage to his shrine.
Eisenman Architects’ winning scheme, folded into the earth and seductively represented by a molded wood model, beat out varied proposals by ten finalists: Steven Holl Architects, OMA/Rem Koolhaas, Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Gigon Guyer Architects, Dominique Perrault Architecture, Studio Daniel Libeskind, Juan Navarro Baldeweg, César Portela, Ricardo Bofill/Taller de Arquitectura, and José Manuel Gallego Jorreto.
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