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The 21st Century Restoration of an Architectural Icon

Published on April 8, 2013
Remarks by Ambassador François Delattre

National Building Museum, April 4, 2013

Dear Chase Rynd, Executive Director of the National Building Museum – thank you for your kind words and warm welcome,

Dear Ronald Bogle, President and CEO of the American Architectural Foundation and Co-Chairman of the Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship,

Chère Michèle Le Menestrel Ulrich, Founding President of the French Heritage Society, and Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship Founder and Co-Chairman – Chère Madame, I cannot thank you enough for your commitment to French-American friendship,

Dear Gustavo Araoz, President of the International Council on Monuments and Sites,

Dear Benjamin Mouton,

Dear friends,

It is a great pleasure and privilege for our Cultural Attaché Catherine Albertini and for me to be here with you tonight to open this lecture series about Notre-Dame de Paris, presented by the Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship. Cher Benjamin Mouton, it’s an honor to welcome you to Washington, your first stop on a four-part tour that will take you to New York, Philadelphia and Rhode Island. The Northeast is in for a real treat!

The title of this lecture is “Notre Dame : The 21st Century Restoration of an Architectural Icon”, and quite frankly, I think that says it all. On the 850th anniversary of the Cathedral, we celebrate Notre Dame de Paris as a true contemporary icon. It was cutting-edge at the time of its construction in the 13th century and was considered the most prominent example of Gothic architecture. Seven centuries later, Viollet-le-Duc’s massive, ground-breaking restoration of the cathedral led to the modern conservation of historic monuments as we know it today.
And in 2013 it continues to be a leading symbol of innovation, as the Gothic masterpiece is being restored with the most sophisticated tools of the 21st century.

Tonight we embrace this vision of France: one that respects a long and rich history while consistently looking toward the future and embracing creativity and innovation. Here you recognize the traditional and well-known French modesty…

More seriously, Benjamin Mouton, our distinguished speaker, is leading this charge as
a Chief Architect of Historic Monuments and General Inspector of Historic Monuments. Mr. Mouton is responsible for the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, along with the Hôtel National des Invalides, the Val de Grace and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts.

He has overseen the most prestigious monuments, ranging from the 12th-century Basilique Saint Denis to the 20th-century Raincy Church by Auguste Perret. Mr. Mouton teaches at the Ecole de Chaillot, the graduate school specialized in the training of architects who work in the heritage sector, and consults as an expert on many international projects.

We are grateful that the Richard Morris Hunt Fellowship has brought Mr. Mouton to share his experiences. I warmly salute the Fellowship for its commitment to fostering French-American exchange in historic preservation, and for the support it lends architects on both sides of the Atlantic to pursue pioneering research.

The French-American partnership is at its strongest when it combines cutting-edge innovation with our shared values and history, reminding us that our two countries owe each other their very existence as free nations.

I believe this is also part of your message, and it means a lot in today’s world.

So my warmest thanks again to each and everyone of you./.

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