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Jean Nouvel, Architect of Light and Shadow


Jean Nouvel, winner of the 2008 Pritzker Architecture Prize

Jean Nouvel, winner of the 2008 Pritzker Architecture Prize

Photo © Christophe Petit-Tesson, courtesy Ateliers Jean Nouvel
French architect Jean Nouvel designs flamboyant and colorful buildings that defy classification.


August 12, 1945 in Fumel, Lot-et-Garonne, France


École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, France

Selected Buildings:

Selected Awards:

  • 1993: Honorary fellow of the American Institute of Architects
  • 1995: Honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects
  • 1997: Named Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
  • 2008: Pritzker Architecture Prize


  • "I am a hedonist, and I want to give pleasure to other people."
    New York Times, April 6, 2008

About Jean Nouvel:

As a teenager, Jean Nouvel wanted to be an artist, and his unconventional buildings suggest the flamboyance of a painter. Taking cues from the environment, Nouvel places an emphasis on light and shadow. Color and transparency are important parts of the design. Upon awarding Jean Nouvel the Pritzker Architecture Prize for 2008, the judges noted that his works demonstrate "persistence, imagination, exuberance, and, above all, an insatiable urge for creative experimentation."

Is Jean Nouvel a modernist? A postmodernist? For most critics, the inventive architect defies classification.

Nouvel is the president and CEO of Ateliers Jean Nouvel (AJN) since December 2012.

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