Essential Architecture-  Paris

Fondation Cartier Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain


Jean Nouvel


261 Boulevard Raspail, 14th.




High-Tech Modern


glass and steel facade


Jean Nouvel is the supernova of Paris architecture stars; an entire show at the Pompidou was devoted to him in 2002, and he is responsible for the popular Tour Sans Fin in La Defense (which isn’t actually endless, only 100 stories high.) Nouvel was the main architect of the brilliant Institut du Monde Arabe, and expectations are high for his latest Paris project, the Musée des Arts Premiers, opening in 2004 on Quai Branly near the Eiffel Tower. Until this new museum is finished, you can best appreciate Nouvel’s vision at one of his older buildings, the Fondation Cartier. Here on Boulevard Raspail is the essence of Nouvel’s vision. Relying on new types of glass and support structures, the Fondation building is transparent, emphasizing its natural surroundings. The site was once the home of French writer Chateaubriand, who planted a tree in the yard. Nouvel managed to design the new building around the tree, to preserve the living link to the past. Nouvel is part of an international trend away from the purist manipulation of space, towards a crucial focus on building materials. Just as Haussmann’s Paris was defined by its golden “pierre de Paris stone,” and mid-20th-century Paris was defined by gradual discoveries using reinforced concrete, Nouvel reveals the most recent incarnation of Paris by using glass to reinterpret the City of Light.

How to visit

The Fondation Cartier is on the east side of the boulevard Raspail in the 14th Arrondissement. Either walk North from Denfert-Rochereau (RER Line B or Metro lines 4 and 6) or walk South from Raspail (Metro lines 4 and 6).

The exhibition floors are open to the public daily from 12 noon. To check for opening times call their recorded information line on +33 1 42 18 56 51. For other information call +33 1 42 18 56 72.


By Lisa Pasold (Special thanks to