Autodeskers help restore the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris

Autodesk Life 6 min read
A group of Autodesk employees stand in front of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris wearing protective clothing and white hard hats

In 2019, a fire broke out beneath the roof of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, causing severe damage to the iconic landmark and sending shock around the world. Our CEO, Andrew Anagnost, was among those who felt incredibly distraught — so he called upon Autodeskers to help.

Along with donating funds for the restoration, we established a multi-disciplinary Core Team of Autodeskers to initiate conversations with the French public institution in charge of the cathedral’s restoration. We also signed a patronage agreement to provide design and construction solutions to help restore the cathedral, including an intelligent 3D model of the cathedral and technical expertise. Meet a few members of the Core Team who have been helping restore the Notre Dame cathedral to its former glory:

Emmanuel Di Giacomo headshot

Emmanuel Di Giacomo is an Architecture, Engineering, & Construction (AEC) Ecosystem Development Manager based in Paris, France, and has been with Autodesk for more than 20 years. He is in charge of the AEC ecosystem, guiding AEC professionals and owners on their journey to building information modeling (BIM) and digitization.

Florence Ferreira headshot

Florence Ferreira is a Brand Marketing Manager based in Paris, France, and has been with Autodesk for just under three years. She is the Brand & Communications representative for the Core Team and helps tell the story of the Notre Dame restoration.

Guillaume Joubert headshot

Guillaume Joubert is a Senior Infrastructure Strategy Manager based in Rennes, France, and has been with Autodesk for eight years. In his role, he works closely with sales, marketing, and product development to improve market penetration in Transportation and Rail. He also participates in institutional initiatives for digital transformation to best adapt Autodesk software solutions for customer demands.

Jean-Baptiste Valette headshot

Jean-Baptiste Valette is a Consulting Delivery Manager based in Boran-sur-Oise, France, and has been with Autodesk for just over three years. In his role, he helps our customers get the best value for their investment in Autodesk solutions and helps transform their businesses through personalized implementations and customizations.

How did you get involved with the Notre Dame restoration project?

Guillaume: I first had the chance to be involved in the competitive dialogues on the large Eiffel Tower site with the city of Paris. With this project being a success and through my ongoing interactions with the city’s project team, the city of Paris invited us to get involved in supporting the design competition for the refurbishment of the surroundings of Notre Dame. At the same time, we also solicited the state for the renovation of the cathedral and found synergies between the two initiatives.

Emmanuel: A few days after the fire in 2019, I was talking with our VP AEC and AutoCAD Strategy, who told me that Autodesk wanted to help rebuild this fantastic monument – this was a strong desire from our CEO. I told him I was in touch with a French company already involved in the project, so that’s when I was invited to join the Core Team.

Florence: When the fire happened in 2019, it created an emotional wave at the international level. I was not yet part of Autodesk, but like everyone on the planet, I was in front of my TV, feeling sad and totally distraught to see this happen in front of me with no opportunity to help. Once I started working at Autodesk, I joined the Core Team to lead the Brand & Communications workstream and ensure its visibility both internally and externally to our key audiences.

Jean-Baptiste: My professional experience implementing BIM in a construction company for more than 10 years led me to work on various major projects, from high-rise towers to museums and historic building transformations. I knew I could bring value to this project by unlocking some technical situations.

Photo of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris illuminated at dusk

How are you using your specific skillsets and expertise to support this project?

Emmanuel: As a former architect, I am very familiar with this industry and its key stakeholders, so I’m able to contact and connect with everyone involved in the project. It has certainly opened many doors! My skills and experience with Revit, which I’ve been using for decades, have also been instrumental, as well as my sense of organization and project management.

Jean-Baptiste: The site is not huge by its size but by its complexity and the number of subcontractors and stakeholders involved. The different approaches and practical use of 4D make the project move forward on solving logistics and safety challenges, with the help of a clever implementation of our desktop and cloud technologies by the Notre Dame project site management consultant. This helps ease the fluidity of the flux on the site and reduces planning risk on the project delivery.

Guillaume: Over the years, I’ve participated in various BIM implementations in the building and infrastructure sectors, covering design and construction; leveraging models to produce plans, estimates, and quantities; 3D coordination; 4D planning; crane sequencing and construction methods; with applications in prefabrication or in heavy 3D reinforcement.

This experience has been extremely beneficial because it has allowed me to learn that above all, the main challenges are the processes linked with the technologies implemented, and people through various industry segments, domains, disciplines, and lifecycles.

Florence: Being the Brand & Communications representative has led me to work on the definition of our messaging and storytelling in collaboration with my internal business partners. The medias are always curious to know more about the progress of this iconic construction site and how Autodesk software is contributing to it. My main challenge as part of this role is to “simplify the complex” — turning this highly technical and unique restoration story into one that is understandable and accessible to all.

3d model for the restoration of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris

What has been the most rewarding thing about being involved with this project?

Jean-Baptiste: Getting to visit the site and reporting back to my six-year-old son that while the cathedral burned, she will be rebuilt in time.

Emmanuel: Being part of this extended “dream team” working on giving Notre Dame a new life — let’s say, a resurrection — and finding ways to accelerate its rebirth. For an architect like me, it’s been amazing – this kind of thing only happens once in your life. Additionally, being able to present this amazing project to journalists, AEC professionals, students, and teachers across the globe has also been an exciting experience.

Florence: I feel very grateful to be part of this Core Team who gets the chance to take part in this unique construction site – a once-in-a-lifetime experience! A few months ago, I had the unique opportunity to get a private tour of the construction site and discover the “behind the scenes” of this monumental work. Visiting the most hidden places of the cathedral, such as the historic wooden framework and the bell tower, was a memorable and emotional moment.

Guillaume: Notre Dame is the most visited monument in the world, well known through countless movies, TV shows, and video games. The fact that we at Autodesk get to participate in its reconstruction and improve the environment of this iconic landmark makes this project very special. Participating in the design competition and providing and coordinating digital solutions that facilitate the development of design intentions makes us a player in the reconstruction of an emblem that we, our children, our friends, and our colleagues will get to see tomorrow and for years to come.

Watch: Model of Notre Dame de Paris and project area created using Autodesk software

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