Port-au-Prince New Cathedral an Object of Sublime Perfection

Segundo Cardona, principal of Architectos de Guaynato Design Firm, has won the design competition for restoration of the Port-au-Prince (PAP) Cathedral, almost completely collapsed during the 2010 earthquake. But the cathedral's colonial façade survived intact. Cardona won out over 250 architecture firms from across the globe. The University Of Miami School Of Architecture partnered with the Archdiocese of PAP to select the winning design.


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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