LOS ANGELES, CA.-French architect Jean Nouvel has been awarded the 2008 Pritzker Prize, the highest honor for architecture, for his creative experimentation and buildings that speak to their surroundings, the Pritzker jury said on Sunday.
Mr. Nouvel is saluted for a lifetime of achievement. In a phone interview to the Christian Science Monitor, he said, "I have designed everything except an airport and a cathedral. I challenge myself to give each project a distinctive look."
The sponsoring Pritzker family's Hyatt Foundation of Chicago announced its 32nd laureate today. Nouvel will receive a bronze medallion and a $100,000 grant in a June 2 ceremony at the Library of Congress in Washington.
Nouvel was born in Fumel, SW France. While still at school he worked for a firm of architects, and in 1975 started his own practice and entered a number of competitions. In his designs he strives for a new language, unfettered by adherence to any particular school or style, and his work is characterized by harmony between building and setting.
Since he opened his office, Nouvel has worked to create a stylistic language separate from that of modernism and post-modernism. Rejecting the strict obedience to Le Corbusier that had stifled much of modern architecture, Nouvel initiates each project with his mind cleared of any preconceived ideas. Although he may borrow from traditional forms, he creates a building that stretches beyond traditional constraints.
In 1987, he had his international breakthrough as an architect with the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris and received the Grand Prix d'Architecture. His designs, from architecture through exhibition designs to furniture designs, are characterised by an interplay of transparency, light and shadow.