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Coral Gables Architect Wants Ultimate Challenge Of Redesigning Iconic Notre Dame Cathedral

CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – For architects, redesigning the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral, which was destroyed by fire earlier this year, is the ultimate challenge. So when France announced the worldwide contest to restore it, a South Florida firm jumped at the opportunity.

When the Notre Dame Cathedral burned, the world watched in disbelief as did UM grad and now Coral Gables architect Cooper Copetas.

"Oh horror, it was horrible to watch that happen," he said.

APTOPIX France Notre Dame Fire
Firefighters tackle the blaze as flames and smoke rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Born in Paris, the disaster was personal.

"When I went the Louvre with my father growing up, we'd ride right by the Notre Dame de Paris," said the designer with SB Architects. "And every time I saw it, it was like marvel."

Seeing his beloved landmark in ruins, Copetas couldn't grab his pencils fast enough.

"Funny enough, I actually started the night of the fire," he said. "Right then and there I had a vision of what I wanted to draw."

GALLERY: SB Architects' Notre Dame Cathedral Renderings

While his renderings are definitely on the modern side, Copetas is hopeful hard-nosed traditionalists will embrace the change.

"Our design is a celebration, an homage to Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, the author of the spire," Copetas said.



So what's the first thing he'll say if his designs are selected?

"Yeah, alright, when do I start?" he said with a laugh.

Copetas plans to be in Paris next month to discuss his proposal with city officials.

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