According to multiple sources, Jean Nouvel has been selected to design a mega-sized new building for the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC) in Beijing. If reports are true, the Pritzker Prize–winning French architect has beat out Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid to snag the highly coveted commission. One well-placed source (who, like others, asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the record) says all three architects were informed of the decision on July 18.
The source added that an official announcement will not come until November, after the national government goes through its once-in-a-decade change in leadership. NAMOC and Gehry’s office declined to comment, while a spokesperson for Nouvel did not respond to several requests for comment. At 1.3 million square feet, the new structure will be mammoth. It is the most prominent of a trio of buildings (the others are a museum devoted to arts and crafts and a sinology museum) being planned for a site next to the Herzog & de Meuron–designed National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest. Part of a broader effort to draw more people to visit the area, post-Olympics, it is also probably the most symbolically important cultural building on the boards in China. “We were told to make a building so iconic that one day people will say that the Bird’s Nest is next to it,” said one early contender.