Design + Architecture

The Visionaries

by Suzanne Wales

JEAN NOUVEL

The vision: Buildings whose facades use glass, light, and color that reflect—and play against—their surroundings

Claim to fame: Torre Agbar, Barcelona

Opened in 2005, French architect Jean Nouvel's Torre Agbar has already achieved iconic status in Barcelona (and that's saying something when you consider the spires of the Sagrada Familia). Locals refer to it as either "the cigar" or, cheekily, "the suppository," and it's endlessly compared to Norman Foster's Swiss Re—or "gherkin"—high-rise in London. In this architecture-savvy city (even the guy who shines your shoes knows who Foster is), the Agbar encapsulates the ambitious expansion plans around its northern periphery, now the new business and high-end residential hub Diagonal Mar. Visit at night, when the Agbar's facade glows with ripples of blue, red, and pink light, thanks to illuminated slats that reflect on the structure's aluminum skin, creating a magical, modernist beacon.

Torre Agbar

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