Jean-Louis Georgelin, Who Was in Charge of Rebuilding Notre-Dame, Dies

A French basic who was positioned in cost of rebuilding Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris after a devastating hearth in 2019 has died, in accordance with the French authorities. He was 74.

Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin, a former military chief of workers whom President Emmanuel Macron had chosen to guide the restoration venture, was climbing in the Pyrénées in southwestern France on Friday when an accident almost certainly occurred, in accordance with French news reports.

The prosecutor’s workplace instructed the French information media that the police had discovered a physique and formally recognized it as the overall’s, however the precise circumstances weren’t instantly clear.

“The nation has lost one of its greatest soldiers,” Mr. Macron said in a statement on Saturday. “France, one of its great servants. And Notre-Dame, the architect of its rebirth.”

Mr. Macron had chosen General Georgelin to guide the advanced reconstruction venture simply months after a blaze tore by means of the cathedral in April 2019. The hearth destroyed the latticework of historic timbers that made up Notre-Dame’s attic, melted the roof’s lead sheath and endangered the soundness of the enduring stone construction, which has stood in the guts of Paris for eight centuries.

The flames additionally despatched molten steel, charred beams and the cathedral’s spire crashing into the inside.

Mr. Macron vowed in the rapid aftermath of the hearth that the cathedral can be rebuilt inside 5 years — an formidable timeline that General Georgelin was tasked with imposing after being appointed president of the public establishment in charge of the project in late 2019.

General Georgelin shortly grew to become the face of the cathedral’s reconstruction, a jovial however no-nonsense army man who prided himself on preserving the venture on observe.

Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, referred to as his dying “a great loss.”

“He was a man of authority, highly respected,” she mentioned in a statement. “He knew how to create the human and organizational conditions needed to successfully rebuild Notre-Dame.”

Laurent Ulrich, the archbishop of Paris, said in a statement that France and the Roman Catholic Church had misplaced “one of their most devoted servants.” He mentioned {that a} Mass for General Georgelin, a practising Catholic, can be held on Sunday on the Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois church in Paris.

The authorities plan to reopen the cathedral for non secular providers in December 2024, when the majority of the interior reconstruction is scheduled to be full. The rebuilding has proceeded regardless of worries over lead contamination on the web site and delays brought on by coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.

An investigation into the hearth continues to be persevering with, however a definitive trigger could by no means be decided. The main theories amongst investigators are {an electrical} short-circuit or a discarded cigarette.

Most lately, employees began erecting scaffolding to rebuild the spire’s picket framework, which is because of be accomplished by the tip of this yr. Stained-glass home windows and organ elements have began returning to the positioning after being cleaned of lead mud.

“We are continuing our march, uninterrupted, toward the reopening of the cathedral,” General Georgelin mentioned beneath a blazing solar final month on the banks of the Seine River as gigantic solid-oak trusses have been delivered by barge after which lifted by crane onto the cathedral.

At the time, the overall welcomed the prospect of Notre-Dame’s world well-known “silhouette” rising as soon as once more in the Parisian sky. “We’re moving forward step by step,” he added, “without fretting, as if the matter were in the bag.”

Jean-Louis Georgelin was born in southwestern France in 1948 and graduated from the Saint-Cyr army academy in 1969.

He began his army profession in the French infantry and rose by means of the ranks, serving as President Jacques Chirac’s private army adviser starting in 2002. As the chief of workers for France’s armed forces from 2006 to 2010, he oversaw French army operations in Lebanon, the Ivory Coast, Afghanistan and the Balkans. He was additionally grand chancellor of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award, from 2010 to 2016.

Although Mr. Macron briefly floated the concept of rebuilding Notre-Dame’s 300-foot spire with a “contemporary architectural gesture,” the concept was shortly dropped, and for probably the most half the cathedral is being rebuilt because it was, together with with lead roofing.

But in an interview with Le Monde newspaper in April, General Georgelin insisted that “everything is being rethought” with improvements, together with “cutting-edge” hearth prevention expertise like misting methods, thermal cameras and fire-resistant doorways, in addition to a restoration system to deal with rainwater working off the lead roof earlier than it goes into the French capital’s sewers.

“We are rebuilding Notre-Dame identically,” he had mentioned. “But we are building a 21st-century cathedral.”

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