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Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris

©Philippe Magnon

Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, 1990-1994

Dominique Perrault
  • Architect (1953)

The internationally acclaimed French architect Dominique Perrault is a major figure of his generation. His architectural language calls for both rigour and simplicity, rejecting the idea of fracture which was especially fashionable in the 1980s and 1990s. The architect creates places rather than buildings. The sobriety of his style, the primary volumes he uses (squares, rectangles, circles), and the spareness applied to the treatment of smooth surfaces all contribute to the idea of the disappearance of architecture, a theme broached before him by Mies van der Rohe and Louis Kahn.  Playing with contradictory and complementary notions—opaqueness/transparency, monumentality/human scale--, Dominique Perrault regards the landscape as a material in its own right, coming to terms with territory. He has accordingly declared: “One day artists declared the death of art; it is time that architects brought to the fore the disappearance, dissolution and deletion of architecture in favour of a way of looking at things which mixes and mingles city and nature, in order to develop a landscape without exclusion, made of everything and for everyone, a positive chaos”.

With degrees in architecture, city-planning and history obtained between 1978 and 1980, Dominique Perrault (1953) opened his Paris agency in 1981. He drew attention to himself in no time by winning many architectural prizes: in 1983, his first work, the Someloir factory at Châteaudun, won the first prize for Architecture et Maître d’Ouvrage, and in 1990 the Hôtel Industriel Berlier (1984-88) won the Equerre d’Argent and the first AMO prize. In 1997 he was awarded the Mies van der Rohe prize for the National Library of France. Other noteworthy works followed, such as the extension to the Court of Justice of the European Communities in Luxembourg (1996-2008), the Ewha Seoul Women’s University in Korea (2008), and the Olympic Tennis Centre in Madrid (2009). In 2009, an exhibition at the Centre Pompidou retracing his career helped to confirm his international standing.