Jean Nouvel was born in 1945 at Fumel, a village in the South West of France. Whilst still attending school he worked with an architectural firm and then in 1975, he opened his own office and participated in several competitions. Nouvel has worked to create a stylistic language separate from that of modernism and post-modernism; rejecting the strict obedience to Le Corbusier that had stifled much of modern architecture. Nouvel initiates each project with his mind cleared of any preconceived ideas although he may borrow from traditional forms, he creates a building that stretches beyond traditional constraints. Nouvel places enormous importance on designing a building harmonious with its site and surroundings. Although Nouvel relies on context to generate his designs, a certain continuum occurs from one design to the next. Within nearly all of his designs, Nouvel consistently presents an interplay of transparency, shadow, and light. In 1981 Jean Nouvel won the competition for a series of "great projects" requested by Francois Mitterrand, the French President. In 1987 he was awarded the "Grand Prix d'Architecture" for his whole body of work and the "Equerre d'Argent" for his design work on minimalist pieces of furniture.