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He deserves credit for assembling—and leading—the talented teams that get his designs built. One of the most striking features of the bullet-shaped Agbar Tower in Barcelona, designed in association with the firm b720 Arquitectos, is its shimmering exterior glass screen.The screen was fabricated by the Italian firm Permasteelisa, one of the leading curtain-wall manufacturers in the world, responsible for some of the most striking walls of recent times—including that of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Norman Foster’s Hearst Building in New York, and Coop Himmelblau’s BMW Welt in Munich.Yet what makes this more than an advertising gimmick is the contrast between the disorienting ethereality of the images and the Platonic purity of the cube.For decades architects have strived to create ever more fluid spaces, designing ramped floors and curved walls to meld the inner life of a building with the street life around it.A planned branch of the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi will be shaded by a gigantic dome that turns its grounds into a kind of oasis.And workers are putting the final touches on an office tower in Doha, Qatar, that is sheathed in aluminum latticework and capped by a filigreed, mosquelike dome.Others have, somewhat inevitably, compared him with Dr Evil in Austin Powers. The project—Tower Verre, he calls it—seemed like too flamboyant a fantasy for a cautious metropolis, and indeed the City Council approved only a stunted version, which demands a new design.

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Elevated train tracks running to the old city swing right by the building; swaths of undeveloped land with tufts of grass and mounds of dirt extend to the south.

Approached along the main road from the historic city, the hall’s cobalt blue exterior has a temporal, ghostly quality.

Its translucent fabric skin is stretched over a structural frame of steel beams and tension cables that resembles scaffolding.

About this, Nouvel is by turns philosophical and resentful. A few minutes later comes the zinger: “What is surprising is that Manhattan should be afraid of verticality.” More Justin Davidson New York Magazine A computer rendering of Jean Nouvel’s design for the National Museum of Qatar.

The tilting plates that form the walls will create peekaboo views from one gallery to another, pulling you along.

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