The project’s estimated cost of €173 million (~$192.5 million) was more than doubled by its completion, which was delayed. Nouvel’s studio is suing to have the fines, which it calls “totally disproportionate,” cleared.

As a lawsuit announced this week shows, there can be a hefty price to pay when people end up disappointed. Architect Jean Nouvel, responsible for the design of the Philharmonie de Paris, is suing the organization this week over hefty fines levied by the Philharmonie against him, due to the building being famously behind schedule and ridiculously over budget.1

Lawyers William Bourdon and Vincent Brengarth, who are representing Jean Nouvel’s studio in the suit, stated that the sums being demanded were “unprecedented in the world of architecture” and amounted to a death sentence for Nouvel’s studio. They also highlighted the fact that these penalties were directed solely at the architect, rather than distributed among the many stakeholders in a building project of this size, which presumably includes contractors and engineers that contributed to the sprawling unmanageability of the project.


  • 1. As reported by the Guardian, Nouvel’s design was initially met with great fanfare, but spiraled into a public relations nightmare as the price tag on the concert hall rose from €173 million (~$192.5 million) when the project was announced in 2006 to €386 million (~$430 million) by the time it opened in January of 2015, two years late on its projected timeline. In 2017, the Philharmonie billed Nouvel for €170.6 million (~$190 million) in retribution for the delays, which included a massive late fee that, according to the lawsuit filed this week by the architect’s studio, is “totally disproportionate.”