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University of Miami School of Architecture Dean Takes Key Role In the Rebuilding of Haitian Cathedral

December 13, 2012

UM School of Architecture Dean Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, will serve as the lead juror of a six-juror panel of a competition to choose the winner of a design to rebuild the Notre Dame de l’Assomption Cathedral in Port Au Prince. The cathedral was destroyed during Haiti’s devastating January 12, 2010 earthquake.

The competition that has drawn 134 submissions was organized by the Archdiocese of Port Au Prince, with the support of UM’s School of Architecture and Faith and Form Magazine. Over 250 architects from throughout the world answered the invitation launched by the Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Mgr Guire Poulard to help build a new Cathedral for the nation's capital.

 The jurors will meet at UM’s School of Architecture during Monday, December 17 and Tuesday, December 18 to review the work of the finalists. The winner will be announced on December 20. The first place winner will receive $12,000, the second place will receive $8,000 and the third place will receive $5,000.

“While each juror will bring a unique perspective to the review of the entries, we will all be looking at the quality of the design and we will take into consideration liturgical goals as well as cultural appropriate,” said Plater-Zyberk.

In the rebuilding of the Roman Catholic cathedral, the goal is to build a structure that can again be a beacon of hope to an entire nation and can serve as a fitting memorial to thousands who perished in the earthquake, according to Yves Savain, consultant to the Archdiocese of Port Au Prince and coordinator of the design competition.

“We feel that the competition will draw a great deal of interest internationally,” said Savain. “The Cathedral is not only a religious symbol but it is a national monument. It has a place in history and in culture and its reconstruction can serve as a catalyst for the rebuilding of downtown Port Au Prince which was also destroyed during the earthquake.”

According to the website on the Cathedral’s rebuilding,, it is hoped that the building will be a technologically advanced structure that takes tradition into account.  This vital structure will put into application national and international building codes to ensure a safe center of worship.

A new structure on the same site will have to meet the most rigorous anti-seismic and anti-cyclonic norms. It should also be a “green building” and achieve the highest standards possible of positive environmental performance.  The new cathedral will represent the long held religious faith of the country. 

“It must honor the memory of the thousands who perished in Haiti on that tragic day of destruction,” said Archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Mgr.Poulard.

Plater-Zyberk has experience with Haitian rebuilding efforts. In March, 2010 the UM School of Architecture hosted a meeting of Haitian architects, planners and government officials who worked with UM faculty and students, and volunteers from throughout the U.S., on blueprints for the reconstruction of earthquake-ravaged Haiti. During the charette, design teams generated ideas that included the rebuilding of churches, medical clinics, community resource centers and housing.  

In the competition to rebuild the Cathedral, other jurors include Patrick Delatour, architect and former Minister of Tourism for Haiti, Michael Crosbie, architect and editor in chief of Faith and Form, Kia Miyamoto, structural engineer with Miyamoto International, Father Richard Vosko, a liturgical consultant and designer from Clifton Park, N.Y. and Edwidge Danticat, the Miami-based award winning Haitian American writer. 

Editor’s note: Members of the media wishing to speak to the jurors can do so on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 1 p.m. at the School of Architecture. Please contact Barbara Gutierrez at 305-284-5500 or at if you wish to cover the story. 

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