This building in Paris has a beautiful face. But that’s not all. Those square panels contain moving parts like the lens of a camera that respond to sunlight like the lens of your eye. Image from here, for e.g.

And, the pattern of the panels (image from here) is an elegant 20th century, Western interpretation of traditional Islamic patterns. This is L’Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Beauty + Utility + Meaning all at once, all together. All by Jean Nouvel.

Still in Paris, Fondation Cartier, an art gallery and offices, by Jean Nouvel.

Another view of this traffic stopper. Above 4 photos by Philippe Ruault. Cartier pair found here. If you want more of Paris (some of you do) check my Weekend Retreat (if you haven’t). Offer good until May 2, 2010.

Jean Nouvel is an architect who is very brave about exploring the potential of the new–ideas, materials, technology–while managing to connect his designs with the traditions of his profession. His many awards include the Pritzker Prize in 2008.

This is a community swimming centre in Le Havre. Mon Dieu. From dezeen.

One of the traditions he pursues is in designing objects as well as buildings–in fact, he has often designed objects for his buildings: chairs, door knobs, tables. The extending table above is available for sale. It is is called Grand Ecart. Found at Wallpaper.

Here is a storage unit for a kitchen, with Corian ® panels that are backlit creating lovely soft shadows. Who could cook a bad meal with that background? From here.

When the meal is cooked, you can eat it with Jean Nouvel cutlery made by George Jensen

Another great face, this an office wall system shown in Milan 2010, via dezeen.

I think Jean Nouvel is an architect who does all the things a great architect should–stay up with the latest, stay connected to the best of the past, think of every project as a unique opportunity, think about everything from the front door handle to the shadows on the floor, connect it all, bring beauty, utility, and relevance to it all. I knew nothing about him when I first saw the Arab Institute. It took my breath away all by itself.