Recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 1989.
This center of Arab culture occupies a beautiful site on the left bank of the Seine, facing the Ile St-Louis from the riverside edge of the University of Paris. The building consists of a museum, a library, an auditorium, offices and meeting rooms assembled within two wings separated by a courtyard opening out toward the Cathedral of Notre-Dame. The translucent marble façade of the seven-storey northern wing is elegantly curved to follow the sweep of the quay. At the west end of this wing is the 100'000 volume library, a spiral tower of books behind a transparent wall of glass offering panoramic views. The principal façade of the eleven-storey southern wing consists of 113 photosensitive panels that operate like a camera's diaphragm opening and closing to control the intensity of light in the interior. The jury, while acknowledging that the building is "not successful in all aspects of its design and at times overly complex to use with ease and comfort," found much to commend in its role as "a successful bridge between French and Arab cultures."
Steele, James, editor. Architecture for Islamic Societies Today. London: Academy Editions, 1994.
Presentation of the projects selected in the fourth cycle of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, all described in detail, examining not only development and design, construction methods and technology, but also the historical background of the site. The visionary philosophy behind the awards has been to seek to encourage architects, builders, clients and users to learn and add to Muslim heritage and to reflect on the continuous relevance of the contemporary expressions of “Islam” as a religion, culture and civilisation. Architecture for Islamic Societies Today is the fourth in a series of books under the general title "Building in the Islamic World Today".