What happens when one of our most famous and admired architects…

…one of the greatest museums in the world, and a country hungry to create an unparalleled cultural destination–sans any limits on funding or creativity–meet and agree on a singular vision ?  There could be a number of answers but the only one that matters is the one which will open in 2015 in the United Arab Emirates.  Jean Nouvel has joined forces with the French government and created an outpost to the beloved and highly prized Louvre.

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His creation, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, is one of his finest.  Exquisite and subtle, the building’s most note-worthy visual element resembles a hand-sewn fabric button and appears to float effortlessly over the waterfront characterizing Saadiyat Island’s Cultural District.

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The Louvre is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest museums.

It’s only drawback is the same that characterizes other urban collections of art–its inability to showcase truly large-scale works.  The Paris branch of the Gagosian Gallery, however, can.  The prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel designed the building which sits at 800 Avenue de l’Europe, Le Bourget in a former airplane hangar, near the French Air & Space Museum.

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© 2013 / 14 Le Monde

As is typical with Nouvel’s work–he is, after all the genius behind Barcelona’s Torre Agbar and New York City’s Tower Verre / MOMA–the exterior is light, fluid, and experimental and more than hints at the great spaces within.

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© 2013 / 14 Bloomberg

Barcelona…

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© 2013 commons.wikimedia.org

…for many years was unjustifiably perceived as the impetuous little sister to the older and wiser Madrid.  That changed, virtually overnight in fact, with the 1992 Olympic Summer Games which helped propel Spain’s capital of Catalonia into the ranks of the world’s greatest cities.  Its growth and cosmopolitan persona have rapidly continued since then.

Nothing can announce a city’s arrival on the global stage faster or with more aplomb than a world-class building from a world-class architect.  Barcelona took a tremendous risk but ultimately hit a home run with Jean Nouvel.  The Pritzker Prize-winning, French architect created a beautiful gem of a building when he designed Torre Agbar for the city.  Located in the tech neighborhood between Avinguda Diagonal and Carrer Badajoz, the tower’s concrete-and-glass exterior resembles ripples of water.  At night, an LED design illuminates the structure with myriad, subtle displays.  It’s a building whose entirely modern design might seem completely out-of-place in such a city as old and historic as Barcelona.  Nothing, however, can be further from the truth as Torre Agbar gives Barcelona a modern skyline while simultaneously paying homage to the city’s favorite if not controversial son, Antoni Gaudi.  To continue reading the Architecture page, click here.