- Norman Foster
BiographyOne of the most eminent and influential British architects and designers of recent decades, Norman Foster (1935) graduated from the University of Manchester (1956-1961), following military service as a pilot in the Royal Air Force (1953-1955).
In the subsequent two years he gained his Master’s Degree at Yale, where he met Richard Rogers, with whom he worked from 1963 to 1967 at Team 4.
After parting company with Rogers, Foster founded Foster Associates in 1967 (now Foster + Partners) which works on projects worldwide and is widely considered “among the most significant in contemporary architecture”. Foster is also renowned for "his stylish structural steel and glass designs with smooth surfaces". (Treccani)
With over 700 employees and numerous international offices, Foster + Partners is today one of the most prolific global architectural practices, with a varied body of work and a myriad of impressive ongoing projects throughout the world.
The practice’s work ranges from masterplans to the restoration of historic buildings, urban planning and all aspects of design.
His first buildings to receive international acclaim "were the Sainsbury Center for the Visual Arts (1974-1978) in Norwich, England, a vast, airy glass and metal paneled shed-type building, and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation headquarters (1979-1986) in Hong Kong, a futuristic steel and glass office building with a stepped profile" (Enc. Britannica).
Foster is primarily known for his use of advanced technology, an aspect which is particularly evident in his early projects such as the IBM offices, New Hampshire (1971) and Renault Center, Swindon (1983).
The latter is considered one of his most acclaimed and impressive projects, a 100,000 sq.m. masterpiece of high-tech architecture at 180 meters high.
However, Foster has never liked the “high-tech” label, declaring, "Ever since man came out of the cave he has been at the forefront of technology, always pushing the limits. Technology is part of civilization and being anti-technology would be like declaring war on architecture and civilization itself. The history of architecture is the history of technology and the tradition of architecture is one of continuous change.
He can therefore be considered "a modernist but traditional in the sense that he uses structure to create space, with an attachment to technology that never goes beyond what is appropriate for the project" (www.pritzker.com).
Foster + Partners became synonymous with modern architecture in the 1990s and 2000s. Innovative and acclaimed designs include the Commerzbank skyscraper in Frankfurt, underground stations in Bilbao and London, Mikroelektronik Park in Duisburg, the Millennium Bridge in London, Great Court, British Museum, National Police Memorial, and the Hearst Tower in New York, 2006.
Many of these projects are considered real planning challenges due to their complexity and innovative nature (Beijing airport terminal, for example, is the world’s largest, and even visible by satellite). Foster pays particular attention to social issues in architecture, perceived as an element that determines the quality of our surroundings and therefore of life itself.
Regarding his design vision Foster declared: “I believe the best architecture comes from a synthesis of all of the elements that separately comprise a building: the structure that holds it up, the services that allow it to work, the ecology of the building (...) the quality of light, materials used, its volume and lightness, the character of the spaces, the symbolism of the form, the building’s relationship with the skyline and urban landscape, and the way the building signals its presence in the city or countryside. I think that holds true whether you are creating a landmark or deferring to a historical setting. Successful architecture addresses all these things and many more.
Appointed a life peer in 1999, during his long career Foster has received hundreds of awards including the Gold Medal of the French Academy (1991) and American Institute of Architects Gold Medal (1994). He was also awarded the Stirling Prize (1998 and 2004), Pritzker Prize (1999) and Aga Khan Award (2007).
Norman Foster selected works and projects
- Battersea Power Station, Londra (Regno Unito), in corso - previsto 2025
- New Slussen Masterplan, Stoccolma (Svezia), in corso - previsto 2025
- 250 City Road, Londra (Regno Unito), in corso - previsto 2022
- Hermitage Plaza, Parigi (Francia), in corso - previsto 2022
- Pavilion, University of Pennsylvania, in corso - previsto 2021
- Hankook Headquarters, Pangyo (Corea del Sud), in corso - previsto 2020
- Grattacielo a 425 Park Avenue, New York (USA), 2020
- Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach (USA), 2019
- Park Walk Primary School Playground, Chelsea, Londra (Regno Unito), 2019
- Comcast Technology Center e Four Seasons Hotel, Filadelfia (USA), 2019
- Gabriela Hearst London Flagship, Londra (Regno Unito), 2019
- Nanshan Technology Finance City, Shenzhen (Cina), 2019
- Haramain High Speed Rail, Riad (Arabia Saudita), 2019
- Apple store, sedi varie (Milano, New York, Tokyo, ecc.), 2018-2019
- Bund Finance Center, Shangai (Cina), 2017
- University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital (USA), 2016
- Château Margaux, Bordeaux (Francia), 2015
- Restauro e ampliamento Lenbachhaus Museum, Monaco di Baviera (Germania), 2013
- Yale School of Management, New Haven (USA), 2013
- BMCE Bank Branches, Rabat (Marocco), 2011
- Dolder Grand Hotel, Zurigo (Svizzera), 2008
- Hearst Tower, New York (USA), 2006
- National Police Memorial, 2005
- Millennium Bridge, Londra (Regno Unito), 2000
- Great Court British Museum, Londra (Gran Bretagna), 2000
- Rinnovamento del Reichstag, Berlino (Germania), 1999
- Aeroporto internazionale Chep Lap Kok, Hong Kong, 1998
- Commerzbank Tower, Francoforte sul Meno (Germania), 1997
- Mikroelektronik Park, Duisburg (Germania), 1995
- Carré d’art, Nîmes (Francia), 1993
- Torre per telecomunicazioni Collserola, Barcellona (Spagna), 1992
- Hong Kong and Shangai Bank, Hong Kong, 1986
- Centro Renault, Swindon, 1983
- Sainsbury Center for Visual Arts, East Anglia University, Norwich, 1978
- Willis Faber Dumas, Ipswich (Gran Bretagna), 1975
- IBM, Cosham-Greenford (Gran Bretagna), 1971
Related Articles: Norman Foster
Belgian architect Lucien Kroll died in Brussels on August 2nd. An essayist and ecologist, he...
The RIBA has announced the three shortlisted projects that will be competing for the Neave Brown...
In the heart of Milan, the architecture firm m2atelier developed an interior design project for the...