Born in Fumel, southwest France, in 1945, Jean Nouvel is widely regarded as one of the world’s most influential contemporary architects.
After graduating in architecture at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1972, in the early part of his career, he worked mostly as an exhibition designer and a scenographer, and an assistant to architect Claude Parent. At the same time, he engaged with a variety of cultural activities, including the foundation of the Mars 1976 movement, the Labor Union of French Architects, and the Paris Architecture Biennale.
The first building by Nouvel to archive international fame was the Arab World Insitute in Paris, designed in 1981 and completed in 1987, with its iconic south facade whose geometric motifs, inspired by Arabian mashrabiyya oriel-window latticeworks, incorporate hundreds of motorized diaphragms which modify its transparency.
Other world-famous buildings by Nouvel include the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain (Paris, 1994), the Culture and Congress Center LKK (Lucerne, 2000), the Reina Sofia Museum expansion (Madrid, 2005), the Agbar Tower (Barcelona, 2005), the Musée du Quai Branly (Paris, 2006), and the Louvre Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi, 2017).
Nouvel was awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2000, the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2001, the Wolf Prize in Arts in 2005, and the Pritzker Prize in 2008.
Photo by Christopher Ohmeyer.
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