Jean Nouvel, French architect who designed his buildings to “create a visual landscape” that fit their context—sometimes by making them contrast with the surrounding area. For his boldly experimental designs, which defy a general characterisation, he was awarded the 2008 Pritzker Architecture Prize, and by the early 21st century Nouvel had earned a place in the pantheon of architectural superstars.
Nouvel first gained an international audience in 1987 when the Institute of the Arab World (Institut du Monde Arabe [IMA]) was completed. The main, south facade of that building, with its high-tech aperture-like panels, manages to be at once cutting-edge in its creative response to changing levels of light and evocative of traditional Arab moucharaby (latticework grills). The design garnered Nouvel the 1989 Aga Khan Award for architectural excellence. Other awards include a Golden Lion from the Venice Biennale (2000), a Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects (2001), and the Praemium Imperiale (2001), presented by the Japan Art Association to “artists who have contributed significantly to the development of international arts and culture.”