He’s Mad. He’s An Architect.

Jean Nouvel. Intense, moody and in shadow.

was recently awarded one of the most prestigious prizes in architecture… the . I cannot say that I found this surprising given the sheer volume of high profile projects his firm, , have been awarded over the past decade. The work of his studio is incredibly creative, innovative, and impressive and despite the niggling issues around functionality and usability (damn those people!) I continue to marvel each time I experience this:

Guthrie Theater cantilever by Jean Nouvel

Rumor has it that after presenting the building design concept with the giant cantilever to the Guthrie Theater client team, somebody quipped about the expense of building something so novel, something so seemingly frivolous, to which Nouvel replied:

“If you remove the cantilever you might as well cut off my arm.”

rumored quote from Jean Nouvel

He then threatened to walk away from the project. I so want to believe that is true. Suffice it to say, the cantilever was built and it is impressive. Every time I see this structure in person, though, I cannot help but think of this:

Giant German mining excavator

Which, when you think about it, is actually a pretty cool thing to come to mind in relation to a high profile theatrical arts building in Minneapolis.

In honor of Jean Nouvel winning the Pritzker I offer the following Quote of The Moment, which is incredibly appropriate given the dizzying pace of materials exploration in architecture today:

“My work deals with what is happening now. I like to use the techniques and materials we are capable of today.”

Jean Nouvel

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