From the Los Angeles Times 3/31/08, a quote from Nouvel:
"For me, every building is an adventure," Nouvel said. "Every project is an adventure. I research every project. I talk to a lot of people. Every building has a relationship to the climate, to the wind, to the colors of the buildings around it. I arrive at a concept with all the parameters in place. When I have all of these constraints, I begin. Without constraints, architecture does not exist. You are a sculptor."
Nouvel said he is determined to resist what he views as the homogenization of world urbanism.
"When you go around the world, you see all the same buildings, and you feel like you're in the same place," he said. "I fight all the time for the specificity of architecture. I fight against global architecture. While some architects aim for a standout," Nouvel said," the designs of his buildings are inseparable from their settings."
"I feel like every site has a right to have an architectural aesthetic," he said. "Architects today try to create a little world, a petit monde, a micro monde. It's important to try to create a building in its context. "Every building must be the "missing piece of the puzzle. It must impossible to put the building in another place," he said. "That is my criterion."
An interior video of his ground-breaking Arab Institute in Paris, among others, is here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sapHcCYIFrE&NR=1
It's an adventure going up inside after watching the patterned wall's steel "irises" close down in unison as the sun hits the south wall. Paris, 1997.