“Notre-Dame is a national and international symbol” that unites people, he said, and departing from its world-famous architecture would have had a “divisive effect.”
“Would we paint the White House red, for modernity’s sake?” Mr. Léniaud said.
Mr. Macron’s decision came right after the National Heritage and Architecture Commission, an advisory body that handles important restoration projects, unanimously approved recommendations by architects that Notre-Dame be restored to its prior state.
That includes rebuilding the spire as designed by Viollet-le-Duc and using original materials like wood for the roofing, in order to “guarantee the authenticity, the harmony and the coherence of this masterpiece of Gothic architecture,” the restoration task force said in a statement on Thursday.
The president’s office said that Mr. Macron trusted the commission’s “expertise.”
“I am happy that the French, pilgrims and visitors from around the world will once again meet with the cathedral that they love,” Gen. Jean-Louis Georgelin, a former army chief of staff named by Mr. Macron to head the task force, said in the statement.
The fire last year destroyed the latticework of huge, ancient timbers that made up Notre-Dame’s attic, melted the roof’s lead sheath and endangered the overall stability of the iconic stone structure that had stood for eight centuries. Molten metal, flaming beams and the spire fell into the cathedral’s interior, doing further damage.
Progress toward restoring Notre-Dame has been halting. In the immediate aftermath of the fire, workers had to shore up the building to prevent it from collapsing, but bad weather, worries over lead contamination and the coronavirus pandemic — which led to a temporary shutdown of the site — prevented them from doing much more.
Most recently, workers hanging from ropes have started using hand saws to delicately remove about 40,000 pieces of charred, twisted scaffolding — remnants of prior renovations that were melted in the fire. The old scaffolding, which weighs about 200 tons, has to be taken down before the architects can fully assess the state of the building and plan its reconstruction.