"A singular modern building, yet one that references the courtyard and terraced vernacular of the region, the Carre d'Art is articulated as a nine-storey structure, half of which is sunk deep into the ground, keeping the buildings profile low in sympathy to the scale of the surrounding buildings. The lower levels house archive storage and a cinema, while above a roofed courtyard forms the heart of the building, exploiting the transparency and lightness of modern materials to allow natural light to permeate all floors. These upper levels are connected by a cascading staircase, linking the top-lit galleries to the shaded roof-terrace cafe overlooking a new public square.
The creation of this urban space was an integral part of the project. Railings, advertising boards and parking spaces were removed and the square in front of the building was extended as a pedestrianized realm. The geometry of this piazza follows Nimes Roman grid in recreating tree-lined streets alongside the building and providing a new setting for the Maison Carre. Lined with cafe tables and thronged with people, the new square has reinvigorated the social and cultural life of Nimes. Together with these urban interventions, the Carre d'Art shows how a building project, backed by an enlightened political initiative, can not only encourage a dialogue between ancient and modern architectures but can also provide a powerful catalyst for reinvigorating the social and physical fabric of a city." --http://www.fosterandpartners.com/Practice/Default.aspx