Built as a cultural centre for the Arab world, the Institut du Monde Arabe consists of two main blocks. The curved building faces the river and has engraved outlines of the previous building on the site. The larger block is the library and media centre. It features photo-electric screens which open and close depending on light conditions. The design of the screens reinterpret traditional Arab latticework screens in glass and steel
The building is best viewed from the small plaza built as part of the site masterplan. The repetition of the design in the window screens has a very pleasant effect. On a sunny day, when the screens are closed, the building has a silver metallic appearance.