Notre Dame Fire Marks ‘Dark Day,’ But Beauty Will Emerge, Baylor Architectural Historian Says

  • Full-Size Image: Notre Dame Cath...
    Notre Dame Cathedral (iStock)
  • Full-Size Image: Elise King, M.I...
    Elise King, M.I.D., M.A., assistant professor of interior design in the department of family and consumer sciences, is an architectural historian and design expert. (Robert Rogers / Baylor Marketing & Communications)
April 16, 2019

Media Contact: Eric M. Eckert, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-710-1964
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WACO, Texas (April 16, 2019) – In the wake of a massive fire that devastated Paris’ iconic Notre Dame Cathedral on Monday and captured eyes and prompted tears across the globe, a Baylor University expert in architectural history said beauty can emerge from the ashes.

Elise King, M.I.D., M.A.,, assistant professor of interior design in Baylor’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, is an architectural and design historian.

“Something I find comforting is that when you study architecture and design throughout history, there are numerous examples demonstrating that destruction, chaos and loss can beget inspired beauty. No matter the damage, this will not be the end of Notre Dame’s story,” King said.

“Architecture isn’t static; it’s designed to adapt and change. The more significant the structure, the more likely its legacy will continue in some built form,” she said. “Whether it’s reconstruction, preservation and restoration, new construction or, more likely, some combination of strategies, Île de la Cité will not be without its cathedral.”

French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that he hopes the 850-year-old building could be rebuilt within five years.

“We will rebuild the cathedral and make it even more beautiful,” Macron said, according to a story in The Wall Street Journal.

King said that the Notre Dame the world has come to know from pictures or personal visits is not the Notre Dame of the 12th Century.

“The beloved gargoyles, for example, were added in the 19th century during Viollet-le-Duc's controversial ‘restoration' of the cathedral,” she said. “There is no doubt that today will be remembered as a dark day in Notre Dame’s history. But already there is light, as groups of Parisians came together tonight to sing ‘Ave Maria’ on the sidewalk in front of the smoldering edifice. And if the damage is severe, I hope the destruction will inspire new and innovative design solutions.”


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences at Baylor University was established in 2014, a result of identified priorities for strengthening the health sciences through Baylor’s strategic vision, Pro Futuris, and the University’s Illuminate academic strategic plan. The anchor academic units that form Robbins College – Communication Sciences and Disorders; Family and Consumer Sciences; Health, Human Performance and Recreation; Public Health; and Division of Health Professions – share a common purpose: improving health and the quality of life. The College’s curricula promotes a team-based approach to transformational education and research that has established interdisciplinary research collaborations to advance solutions for improving quality of life for individuals, families and communities. For more information,visit

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