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19. Jean Nouvel

Architect, Ateliers Jean Nouvel

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Rather than rest on his laurels since winning the Pritzker Prize, his profession's top honor, in 2008, French architect Jean Nouvel, 64, has attained new heights with his dramatic designs. Two in-process creations, both set to open in 2012, convey his bold eclecticism and inability to be pigeonholed. His take on the Louvre's Abu Dhabi branch looks more like an alien invasion than an art museum, with its enormous webbed dome sitting atop smaller buildings and galleries, rays of sunlight streaming down. Meanwhile, his design for the Philharmonie de Paris stacks huge sloping slabs of aluminum that sparkle with escaping light at night.

Each new situation requires a new architecture.

The task of the architect is to encompass everything about the site, starting from the concrete conditions and the sensory impressions created by those, to memories of the place, through empathy to vision.