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Catholic University to recreate Notre Dame de Paris truss with medieval methods



J-P Mauro - published on 07/23/21

The finished truss will tour Washington D.C. on exhibition that will end in the National Building Museum.

This July, The Catholic University of America will host a project that will recreate a piece of Notre Dame de Paris. Known as The Truss Project, CUA faculty and students will be joined by Handshouse Studio to reconstruct one of the roof supports that burned in the 2019 fire.

The 10-day project will produce a full-sized replica of Truss #6, which will then tour Washington D.C. on exhibition.Handshouse has called the project a “gift to France,” which will express unity in the effort to rebuild Notre Dame de Paris.

The project

According to CUA, the truss they aim to construct will stand 45 feet wide and 35 feet tall, roughly 3 stories. The construction effort will take place right on the University Mall, where it will also be available for public viewing. Mark Ferguson, dean of Catholic University’s School of Architecture and Planning noted the educational aspects of the project: 

“We study architectural history through drawings, photographs, and on-site observations, but to study an important work of architecture by reconstructing it dramatically expands one’s appreciation for the building and the people who created it. Truss #6 will bring people together from all walks of life to experience the joy and hard work of crafting a beautiful building.”

The truss will be built by University students and staff working alongside traditional lumber framers and carpenters. This team wills use medieval methods of construction to keep the replica faithful to the original. Handshouse Studio notes that they will work off official drawings by French lead architects Rémi Fromont and Cédric Trentesaux.


Once completed, on about August 3, the truss is scheduled to tour several sites in Washington, D.C.. This victory lap will begin with a few days of display on CUA’s University Mall. Located beside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the 35-foot tall truss will rival the surrounding Caldwell and Gibbons halls. 

The second stop on the tour will see the truss stand on the National Mall. This one-day event, taking place on August 5, comes in coordination with the Historic Preservation Training Center of the National Park Service. 

Truss #6 will end its tour of the U.S. capital at the National Building Museum, on August 6. After a ceremony, the truss will be installed as an exhibit in the building’s Great Hall. The exhibit will be fully explorable by visitors to the museum. The exhibit is planned to last a few weeks, but it’s stint may be extended. 

In the CUA report, University Provost Aaron Dominguez hailed the project, stating: 

“After watching the devastating images of the fire, it brings me joy that our university can contribute to the rebuilding of this beautiful church, which is an expression of love to our Blessed Mother.”

Learn more about The Truss Project at CUA.

ArchitectureCatholicismEducationHistoryNotre Dame
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