On the Grounds of the Ile de la Cité


Ends of Architecture

April 18, 2019

The images of Notre–Dame de Paris burning on Monday viscerally reminded us of the temporality of the things that we build. However, we are also reminded of the extraordinary value that architecture continues to hold in our society. The 850-year-old church now stands in parity with Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art, which today remains in limbo after a fire in 2018, and in questioning the “ends of architecture,” affirms that we must also acknowledge the physical ends of its fleeting existence. Although some would argue that the first architect proper did not arrive until years after its completion, the cathedral is an architectural edifice, and the subsequent outpouring of grief at its near-loss shows that it holds a profound significance to those far beyond architectural discourse. As architects, we feel the pain of a building’s loss acutely, but as human beings, we continue to stand in solemnity and in shock with the rest of the world.