Noticias de Arquitectura

A Jean Nouvel interview: On the prize, architecture and Chicago
marzo 31, 2008, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Nouvel, Pritzker

« Pritzker Architecture Prize goes to Jean Nouvel | Main | French ‘starchitect’s’ debutante is a Minneapolis knockout »

n a brief telephone interview Tuesday from his office in Paris, Jean Nouvel touched on his surprise in winning the Pritzker Architecture Prize, his philosophy of design, and his visits to Chicago. Here’s a recounting of the inteview, which includes direct quotations from Nouvel and paraphrases of his remarks:

Q: How did you hear the news?

A: “The Pritzker people called me.” He spoke, he said, to Martha Thorne, the executive director of the prize and a former architecture curator of the Art Institute of Chicago. “And I was so surprised.”

In previous years, he said, he thought he had a chance to win because he had recently completed major buildings and they’d been well-reviewed. But there were none last year, so “I was not waiting.”

Q: Any thoughts on your Guthrie Theater design now that the building’s been open for two years?

A: “For me, it was a great American adventure. Because I like to build buildings when they are linked to the story of the city.” He discussed how the design relates to local landmarks, like old mills along the Mississippi River, and waterfalls.

Q: What kind of statement was the jury making in giving you the award?

A: “They said in this text [the jury’s formal statement] that I take a lot of risks…That is my fight…I am really fighting against the generic architecture of the International Style—to create a really specific architecture. Every site, every client, has a right to a total strategy, a new strategy, has a right to have the architect be completely involved, linked to this new problem. Every time, I try to find the missing piece.”

Q: Have you ever been to Chicago?

A: “I have, of course.” He visited in the late 1980s after he won the competition to design the Endless

Tower, a skyscraper in the La Defense district just outside Paris that ultimately wasn’t built..

“We went all around the world to see the main towers that were built.” While in Chicago, he said, he looked at Mies van der Rohe’s buildings and the John Hancock Center. “I remember Helmut Jahn helped me visit the city.” He returned to the city for two or three more visits.

Q: Would you like to design in Chicago?

A: “Sure, sure. It’s territory chosen by the gods of architecture.”


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