How (Not) to Interview Jean Nouvel

In 2014, the Doha Architecture Forum asked me to interview French architect Jean Nouvel on a public stage at the city’s Museum of Islamic Architecture. I was in town for a conference and to see friends; Nouvel was there to check in on his various projects for the city, including the National Museum of Qatar.

Both Nouvel and I were ambivalent about the pairing. Obviously I was the more curious one. He insisted the interview happen in French; I reminded him more than once I don’t speak French. In the end I learned that he underrates his English.

We had an amiable conversation, even if he did avoid most questions about the famously expensive museum project. Most surprising for me is that he seems to work outside of any notion of irony. Architecture for him is a self-evident project.