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 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.
Jean Nouvel is currently developing several cultural projects in China. In November 2017, Jean Nouvel delivered the Louvre Abu Dhabi Museum, a landmark museum in the Gulf region. The museum has received unanimous international acclaim and has already welcomed a large number of visitors since its opening.