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Nouvel Wins the Pritzker Prize (and Media Embargo Broken Again, UPDATED)

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Jean Nouvel, 2008 Pritzker Winner

As occurred last year, the media-embargoed announcement of the winner of architecture’s highest honor, the Pritzker Prize, was leaked a day early (here and here). Prescient (or well informed at an early date), Arthur Lubow has a long profile of Nouvel slated for NEXT Sunday’s NY Times Magazine, already available online here. That piece includes the line: “Last week, Nouvel was named the winner of his profession’s highest honor,
the Pritzker Architecture Prize.” A seven-day advance posting is a VERY early leak of a Times Magazine piece!

In any event, the Hyatt Foundation, which sponsors the $100,000 prize, really can’t expect journalists to keep secret something that’s already publicly posted. Should our readers be the last to know? (UPDATE: A fellow journalist today informed me that the Chicago-based Pritzker Prize “permitted online release yesterday, to coincide with release of info in Europe.”)

The thumbnails of Nouvel’s projects, also online, show some 42 designs designated as “in progress.” One of those is New York’s MoMA Monster, gallicized as the “Tour Verre” (glass tower).

As you know, Bloomberg architecture critic James Russell and I haven’t been big fans of that megalith. In today’s appraisal, however, Russell observed that “the best work of…Ateliers Jean Nouvel is
magical, charming and utterly appropriate all at once.” Of the excessive height of the proposed Eiffel of New York, he had previously fulminated: “Someday such abuse may become illegal.

I haven’t seen the buildings for which Nouvel is most celebrated, such as his breakout Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, so my unfavorable impression is based on insufficient information. But like the Wall Street Journal’s drama critic, Terry Teachout, I was not wild about the dark blue, silo-like Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis:

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Terry wrote: “The low-ceilinged public areas are dark, oppressive and laid
out with irksome illogic. Rarely can there have been a theater whose
interior was less well suited to the purpose of making its occupants
feel festive and expectant.”

Its exterior reminded me of this:
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