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Notably Nouvel: 2008 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate

This year′s recipient will be saying "merci" in Washington, DC.

By ArchNewsNow
March 30, 2008

A quick search of archives comes up with 234 articles that include the name Jean Nouvel, so we were not all that surprised when The Hyatt Foundation announced on Sunday that the French architect had been selected as the 2008 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate. We know the pundits will be pontificating profusely, and, of course, we will include their musings in the ANN newsletter as they come online. In the meantime, we’re offering an eyeful here.


“My interest has always been in an architecture which reflects the modernity of our epoch as opposed to the rethinking of historical references. My work deals with what is happening now – our techniques and materials, what we are capable of doing today.”

– Jean Nouvel


“We, as a jury, recognize that architecture is a field of many challenges and complexities and that the career of an architect does not always follow a linear path. In the case of Jean Nouvel, we particularly admire the spirit of the journey – persistence, imagination, exuberance, and, above all, an insatiable urge for creative experimentation – qualities that are abundant in the work of the 2008 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate.”

– Jury Citation


The formal ceremony for what is often referred to as architecture’s Nobel Prize will be held on June 2 in Washington, DC, at the Library of Congress, when a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion will be presented to the 62-year old architect.


Although most of Nouvel’s work is in France, he has designed more than 200 projects all over the world. The jury called out several in its citation, including the first that brought him international attention: the Institut du Monde Arabe (Arab World Institute, also referred to as IMA), completed in 1987 as one of President François Mitterrand’s Grands Projets in Paris. Also singled out by the jury is the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis (2006) that “both merges and contrasts with its surroundings. It is responsive to the city and the nearby Mississippi River, and yet, it is also an expression of theatricality and the magical world of performance.” The Lucerne Cultural and Conference Center (2000) and the Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art (Paris 1994) are cited by the jury as making “dematerialization palpable.”


New York City will be able to lay claim to three Nouvel creations – the recently completed 15-story 40 Mercer Street (with SLCE Architects and Roman and Williams, 2007), a 23-story condo tower at 100 11th Avenue (with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, currently under construction), and the recently announced Tour de Verre, a proposed 75-story skyscraper next door to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Also on the boards or under construction at Atelier Jean Nouvel is Philharmonie de Paris, a concert hall in Copenhagen for the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, and the recently announced 45-story, $400 million, “green” luxury condo tower in Century City, Los Angeles (with Rios Clementi Hale Studios).


Notable completed projects include the Quai Branly Museum (Paris 2006), the Torre Agbar (Barcelona 2005), the Palais du Justice (Nantes 2000), L’Opéra de Lyon (1993), and Expo 2002 (Switzerland).


The international prize, which is awarded each year to a living architect for lifetime achievement, was established by the Pritzker family of Chicago through their Hyatt Foundation in 1979.


The 2008 jury:

– Chairman: Lord Palumbo, architectural patron and former chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain and the Tate Gallery Foundation, former trustee of MoMA’s Mies van der Rohe Archives, New York, and chairman of the trustees, Serpentine Gallery, London, U.K.

– Shigeru Ban, architect and professor at Keio University, Tokyo, Japan

– Rolf Fehlbaum, chairman of the board of Vitra, Basel, Switzerland

– Carlos Jimenez, a principal of Carlos Jimenez Studio and professor at the Rice University School of Architecture, Houston, Texas

– Victoria Newhouse, architectural historian and author, founder and director of the

Architectural History Foundation of New York

– Renzo Piano, architect and 1998 Pritzker Laureate, Paris and Genoa

– Karen Stein, writer, editor, and architectural consultant in New York, and former editorial director of Phaidon Press

– Martha Thorne, Executive Director of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, and former curator of architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago





(click on pictures to enlarge)

Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Tour de Verre: proposed 75-story tower adjacent to the Museum of Modern Art, New York City (in progress)

Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Tour de Verre

Ateliers Jean Nouvel

100 11th Avenue condo tower, New York City (in progress)

Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Abu Dhabi Louvre Museum (in progress)

Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Abu Dhabi Louvre Museum

Gaston & Septet

Philharmonie de Paris (in progress)

Philippe Ruault

40 Mercer Street, New York City (2007)

Ateliers Jean Nouvel; photo by Roland Halbe

Quai Branly Museum, Paris, south façade (1999-2006)

Ateliers Jean Nouvel

Quai Branly Museum south elevation

Roland Halbe

Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, Minnesota (1999-2006)

Philippe Ruault

Torre Agbar, Barcelona, Spain (1999-2005)

Cartier Foundation for Contemporary Art, Paris (1991-94)

Philippe Ruault

L’Opéra de Lyon, Lyon, France (1986-1993)

Deidi Von Schaewen

Nemausus I public housing, Nimes, France (1985-87)

Georges Fessy

Institut du Monde Arabe (IMA or Arab World Institute) Paris (1981-87): exterior view of wall showing adjustable metal lenses

Georges Fessy

Institut du Monde Arabe: interior view of the metal lenses

© 2008