Port-au-Prince New Cathedral an Object of Sublime Perfection
Competition guidelines required that preservation of Haiti's architectural tradition be the dominant element in creating the cathedral's design. The guidelines also required practicality in using environmentally safe materials in the interior of the cathedral, as well as adherence to seismic requirements.
The colonial façade will be supported by a steel-reinforced roof that will connect to the new structure, allowing space to open outward towards the seating capacity of 1,200. The space's flexibility will extend to accommodate another 600 parishioners, if necessary. A glass-fiber skylight, supported by concrete reinforcements and cross-beamed recesses, will reflect light in cross-formed partitions. The cathedral will be supported by two flying buttresses replacing the colonial-style bell towers.
The design structure viewed from several angles is majestic. Its buttresses reach higher into the sky and its expanse, almost doubled, does not lose the original aura of the colonial façade. It only strengthens it, emblematic of Haiti triumphing over its devastation. The soaring architecture of the new cathedral can be compared in its modernity to St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral in San Francisco, one of the most inspired pieces of modern architecture the world over.
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