Architect Jean Nouvel of Paris has been named as the 2008 laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize and will receive the bronze medallion and $100,000 grant on June 2 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Nouvel first created buzz in 1987 with his Institut du Monde Arabe, in Paris. The building's series of diaphragms in one exterior wall, which control how much sunlight the interior receives, was celebrated for its elegance and novelty. Nouvel has returned to the Arab world-and the design spotlight-with the recently announced Louvre Abu Dhabi, an elegant collection of structures covered by a massive, pierced canopy. Between the two are a series of buildings that suggest an architect of uncommon originality.
The Pritzker jury described Nouvel's career as one of courageously pursuing new ideas and challenging accepted norms to stretch the boundaries of architecture, citing his "persistence, imagination, exuberance, and ... insatiable urge for creative experimentation." In a statement made public as part of the prize announcement, Nouvel said, "My work deals with what is happening now-our techniques and materials, what we are capable of doing today."
The 2008 Pritzker Prize jury comprised chairman Lord Palumbo; Shigeru Ban, architect and professor at Keio University; Rolf Fehlbaum, Vitra chairman of the board; Carlos Jimenez, professor at Rice University School of Architecture and principal of Carlos Jimenez Design Studio; Victoria Newhouse, architectural historian and the founder and director of the Architectural History Foundation; Renzo Piano, architect and 1998 Pritzker laureate; and writer, editor, and architectural consultant Karen Stein. Martha Thorne, former curator of architecture at the Art Institute of Chicago, is the executive director.