Construction begins on Jean Nouvel's Louvre Abu Dhabi
It's been in the planning phase for years, and now the much-discussed Louvre Abu Dhabi is finally becoming a reality.
Today, construction officially began on the cultural complex on the Persian Gulf city-state's Saadiyat Island. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, presided over the ceremony.
Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, the civic area will span 260,000 square feet and comprise pavilions, plazas, canals and alleyways. (About 65,000 square feet will be dedicated to exhibitions.) A dome 590 feet in diameter will hover over much of the complex.
Completion is set for 2012 or 2013.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a joint effort between the governments of France and Abu Dhabi. It will feature artworks loaned from several top French museums, including the Louvre, the Musée d'Orsay, le Centre Pompidou, the Musée de Quai Branly and the Musée Guimet.
In addition, the center will exhibit work from its own developing collection.
Billed as "the first universal museum," the Louvre Abu Dhabi will also feature archaeological artifacts and art from all cultures.
Click through to view more illustrations of Nouvel's designs ...