National Building Museum Rolls Out Red Carpet for Jean Nouvel

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Tonight the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., welcomes Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, who will discuss his work as part of the museum’s “Spotlight on Design” lecture series, sponsored by Lafarge. We popped in earlier today to catch a glimpse of the preparations (and the swell Saarinen retrospective, on view through June 23). Nouvel will speak in the museum’s Great Hall, where those massive Corinthian columns frame hundreds of golden chairs set up for the occasion. We thought it particularly appropriate that staffers were testing the AV setup, a row of three jumbo screens arranged on a diagonal, with the TV show Heroes (see above photo). While we couldn’t stick around Our Nation’s Capital for the evening’s festivities (word is that a recording of the lecture will soon be available here), we did manage to grab a Nouvel-autographed copy of The Singular Objects of Architecture, in which he spars with the late Jean Baudrillard on such topics as the Bilbao Guggenheim (notes Nouvel, “You can rely on Frank Gehry to surpise you!”), the significance of the World Trade Center, and the power of serendipity. One of our favorite little exchanges:

Nouvel: Do you still have a positive outlook on modernity?

Baudrillard: Did I ever?