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Notre-Dame and National Cathedral at a Crossroads
February 05

Organized by the National Building Museum. At Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20016.

Learn what preservation architects and engineers are doing to safeguard our cultural heritage following the devastating fire at Notre-Dame de Paris and severe earthquake damage at Washington National Cathedral. Hear what stewardship of these iconic buildings means in light of new fire suppression technologies, preservation best-practices, and contemporary design approaches.

Tom Mayes, chief legal officer and general counsel, National Trust for Historic Preservation
Kevin Murphy, Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities, professor and chair of the History of Art, Vanderbilt University
William Richards (moderator), writer and architectural historian
Benjamin Roehrig, political counsellor, Embassy of France, Washington, DC
James Shepherd, AIA, principal and director, Historic Preservation at SmithGroup, Washington, DC

1.5 LU HSW (AIA). Free for Museum Member | $10 Student | $20 Non-member. Register here.


William Richards (moderator) is a writer, an architectural historian, and the author of Revolt and Reform in Architecture’s Academy: Urban Renewal, Race, and the Rise of Design in the Public Interest (Routledge, 2017) and the forthcoming Living in Nature: Bamboo Homes and Design (Princeton Architectural Press, 2020). Bill has written about architecture, design, and urbanism for Architect, Architectural Record, Art New England Magazine, Competitions Magazine, Landscape Architecture Magazine, Old House Journal, and other magazines, journals, and edited volumes. He has lectured widely and moderated panels for the American Institute of Architects,  the Association of American Geographers, City College of New York, AIA Iowa, the University of Virginia, and the Virginia Center for Architecture. Bill holds a doctorate in the history of art and architecture from the University of Virginia and he lives in Washington, D.C.   

James Shepherd, AIA, is Principal and Director of Historic Preservation at SmithGroup, in Washington D.C. Shepherd has over 25 years of experience in the preservation and conservation of significant historic structures. He served as the director of preservation and facilities at Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC, where he directed capital projects for its facilities, and at Beyer Blinder Belle, where he directed numerous award-winning projects for clients such as the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Architect of the Capitol. Notably, Shepherd directed the restoration and repair of the cathedral after it sustained significant damage from an earthquake in 2011.

Benjamin Roehrig is a political counsellor for the Embassy of France in Washington, D.C. Roehrig is a graduate of Saint-Cyr Military Academy and the Ecole de Guerre, and he holds an MBA from the Sorbonne Business School. He served 15 years in the army, alternating between operational responsibilities and assignments at headquarters, and he took part in several overseas operations and many operational missions. He left the army with the rank of lieutenant-colonel and has been a French diplomat since 2015, assigned to the European Union Directorate, where he served as counsellor for economic, budgetary, and fiscal issues.

Tom Mayes, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has written and spoken widely on why old places matter to people, as well as preservation easements, shipwreck protection, historic house museums, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and preservation public policy. He is a 2013 recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Rome Prize in Historic Preservation, and a former instructor in historic preservation at the University of Maryland.

Kevin Murphy is the Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities and Professor and Chair of the History of Art at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Murphy focuses on historicism in France and the United States, new design based on historic precedents, and the preservation of historic sites. He is the author of Memory and Modernity: Viollet-le-Duc at Vézelay (2000), several co-edited volumes, as well as numerous journal articles, and he is currently working on a book that considers issues surrounding the commemoration of political revolution in the late-18th and 19th centuries by examining the contributions to French and American history made by the Marquis de Lafayette.