Jean Nouvel was born in Fumel, France in 1945.
After he enrolled at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux, Jean Nouvel ranked first in the entrance examination of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1966 and obtained his degree in 1971. Assistant to the architect Claude Parent and inspired by urban planner and essayist Paul Virilio, he started his first architecture practice in 1970. Soon afterwards, he became a founding member of the “Mars 1976” Movement whose purpose was to oppose the architects’corporatism and then a founder of French Architecture Union.
His strong stances and somewhat provocative opinions on contemporary architecture in the urban context together with his unfailing ability to inject originality into all the projects he undertakes have formed his international image. Jean Nouvel’s work does not result from considerations of style or ideology, but from a quest to create a unique concept for a singular combination of people, place and time. His contextual approach and ability to infuse a genuine uniqueness into all the projects he undertakes have consistently yielded buildings that transform their environments and indelibly mark the cities in which they are built, like the Arab World Institute, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain and the musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris (France), the Lyon Opera House (France), the Culture and Convention Centre – KKL in Lucerne (Switzerland), the Agbar Tower in Barcelona (Spain), the Reina Sofia Museum extension in Madrid (Spain), the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis (USA), the “40 Mercer” housing building in New York (USA), the Doha High Rise Office Building (Qatar), One Central Park in Sydney (Australia), The White Walls in Nicosia (Cyprus), the DR (Danmarks Radio) Concert Hall in Copenhagen (Denmark) and more recently the Louvre Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) and the National Museum of Qatar in Doha (Qatar).
His works have gained world-wide recognition through numerous prestigious French and International prizes and rewards. In 1989, The Arab World Institute in Paris was awarded the Aga-Khan Prize because of its role as “a successful bridge between French and Arab cultures”. In 2000, Jean Nouvel received the Lion d’Or of the Venice Biennale. In 2001, he received three of the highest international awards: the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Praemium Imperial of Japan’s Fine Arts Association and the Borromini Prize for the Culture and Conference Center in Lucerne. He was appointed Docteur Honoris Causa of the Royal College of Art in London in 2002. Three years later, he received the annual prize of the Wolf Foundation in Israel “for providing a new model of contextualism and redefining the dialectic between the two salient characteristics of contemporary architecture: concreteness and ephemerality”. The Agbar Tower in Barcelona was awarded the International Highrise Award 2006 in Frankfurt, “as it makes an outstanding contribution to the current debate on high-rises”. Jean Nouvel was the recipient of the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 2008. In France, he has received many prizes including the Gold Medal from the French Academy of Architecture, two “Équerres d’Argent” and the National Grand Prize for Architecture.
Best Tall Office Building, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), Shenzhen, for the European Patent Office (EPO), Rijswijk, Netherlands
Best futura project, MIPIM, France, for the National Museum of Qatar, Doha, Qatar
Best Tall Building Europe, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), USA, for The White Walls in Nicosia, Cyprus
Best Tall Building Worldwide, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), USA, for One Central Park in Sydney, Australia
Doctor Honoris Causa, Catholic University of Louvain UCL, Belgium
Best Tall Building Worldwide, Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), USA, for Doha Office Tower, Doha, Qatar
European Hotel Design Award for the Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom, Vienna, Austria
Officier of the Légion d’honneur, France
Pritzker Architecture Prize, The Hyatt Foundation, USA
Doctor Honoris Causa, Higher Institute of Art of Habana, Cuba
Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize, American Academy of Arts and Letters, USA
International Highrise Award, City of Frankfurt, DAM and DekaBank (Germany), for the AGBAR Tower in Barcelona, Spain
Officier de l’Ordre du mérite
Wolf Prize in Arts, Wolf Foundation, Israel
Doctor Honoris Causa, Royal Academy of Art, Copenhagen, Denmark
Doctor Honoris Causa, Royal College of Art of London, UK
Doctor Honoris Causa, Design University of Naples, Italia
Borromini International Architecture Award, City of Rome (Italia), for the KKL in Lucerne, Switzerland
Royal Gold Medal, Royal Institute of British Architects, UK
Praemium Imperiale International Art Awards in Architecture, Japan Art Association
Golden Lion, 7th International Venice Architecture Biennale, Italia
Gold Medal, French Academy of Architecture, France
Commandeur de l’Ordre des arts et des lettres, France
Équerre d’argent for the National Opera House of Lyon, France
Architectural Record Prize for the Saint James Hotel in Bouliac, France
Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the Arab World Institute in Paris, France
Grand Prix national d’architecture, France
Équerre d’argent for the Arab World Institute in Paris, France