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Norman Foster's Manchester Maggie's Centre Breaks Ground

After being granted planning permission last yearNorman Foster's new Maggie’s Cancer Centre in his hometown of  has broken ground. The project is being built at The Christie, one of Europe’s leading cancer centres and the largest single-site centre in Europe. According to Foster + Partners, the new centre will "provide free practical, emotional and social support for anyone living with cancer as well as their family and friends." Surrounded by the Centre’s existing, lush gardens designed by Dan Pearson, Foster’s proposed structure aims to tap into the therapeutic qualities of nature by engaging the outdoors.

Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster Tapped to Design Luxury Hotels in China

Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster have been tapped to design two luxury hotels for the Jumeirah Group's newest properties in China: Jumeirah Wuhan and Jumeirah Nanjing. Both properties will be adjacent to existing business districts and will provide luxury suites, specialty restaurants, executive club lounges, business centers, spas and more. 

The Story of Maggie's Centres: How 17 Architects Came to Tackle Cancer Care

Maggie's Centres are the legacy of Margaret Keswick Jencks, a terminally ill woman who had the notion that cancer treatment environments and their results could be drastically improved through good design. Her vision was realized and continues to be realized today by numerous architects, including Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and Snøhetta - just to name a few. Originally appearing in Metropolis Magazine as Living with Cancer,” this article by Samuel Medina features images of Maggie's Centres around the world, taking a closer look at the organization's roots and its continued success through the aid of architects.

It was May 1993, and writer and designer Margaret Keswick Jencks sat in a windowless corridor of a small Scottish hospital, dreading what would come next. The prognosis was bad—her cancer had returned—but the waiting, and the waiting room, were draining. Over the next two years until her death, she returned several times for chemo drips. In such neglected, thoughtless spaces, she wrote, patients like herself were left to “wilt” under the desiccating glare of fluorescent lights.

Wouldn’t it be better to have a private, light-filled space in which to await the results of the next bout of tests, or from which to contemplate, in silence, the findings? If architecture could demoralize patients—could “contribute to extreme and mental enervation,” as Keswick Jencks observed—could it not also prove restorative?

Highlands, Scotland, 2005 by Page\Park Architects / Courtesy of Page\Park Architects. ImageA collaboration between Page\Park and Charles Jencks, Maggie's Centre Inverness at Highlands weaves together building and landscape in a unified composition. The design invokes the formal properties of mitosis or cell division; scaled up, they are manifested in the swirling landscape mounds and the center's spiraling form. "The cell is the unit of life: dynamic, really exciting, a factory of life itself, and I thought it was time to celebrate the cell," Jencks has said in the past. Fife, Scotland, 2006 by Zaha Hadid Architects / © Werner Huthmacher. ImageAll sharp angles and painted a sinister black, Zaha Hadid's Fife center isn't the first thing you'd expect from a Maggie's Centre. The exterior invited comparisons to a bunker, despite the airy, humane spaces within. "Zaha got a lot of criticism and her building is bloody good," Jencks says of his former student's design. The building was the architect's first in the UK. Manchester, England, 2016 by Fosters + Partners / Courtesy of Fosters + Partners. ImageThe next center is set to open in Manchester, where Norman Foster was born and raised. “Norman came to us, and I was waiting because he is an old friend of mine,” Jencks says. “He had cancer, and because of his own experiences, he was really interested in doing this. He’s got everything he’s ever wanted in this building.” Aberdeen, Scotland, 2013 by Snøhetta / © Philip Vile . ImageThe center's cocoon-like shell packs a big, Niemeyer-esque punch despite its modest proportions. The interiors, however, reveal a Scandinavian influence, with extensive timber coverings and exquisite stone accents. The building has been nicknamed "the Pebble" by locals.

Norman Foster Wins Planning for Manchester Maggie’s Centre

UPDATE: Foster + Partners have been granted planning permission for The Chirstie. The new Centre is due to open in 2016.

Norman Foster has applied for planning permission for a new Maggie’s Cancer Centre in his hometown of Manchester. Planned to be built at The Christie, one of Europe’s leading cancer centres and the largest single-site centre in Europe, the new Centre intends to “provide free practical, emotional and social support for anyone living with cancer as well as their family and friends.”

“I believe in the power of architecture to lift the spirits and help in the process of therapy,” Foster explains. “Within the Centre, there is a variety of spaces – visitors can gather around a big kitchen table, find a peaceful place to think or they can work with their hands in the greenhouse. Throughout, there is a focus on natural light and contact with the gardens. The timber frame, with its planted lattice helps to dissolve the architecture into the surrounding greenery.”

Foster and Gehry Reveal Designs for Battersea Power Station

As phase three of London’s Battersea Power Station regeneration, Foster + Partners has collaborated with Gehry Partners to design the 42-acre development’s primary entrance. Together, the duo has envisioned “The Electric Boulevard” - a massive gateway connecting the Northern Line Extension station to the Power Station, which will be formed by an undulating Foster-designed tower known as “The Skyline” and Gehry’s five-building “Prospect Place.”

Housing more than 1,300 homes and over 350,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, the boulevard is expected to become one of London’s most distinguished high streets. 

Foster to Design "First and Mission" Towers in San Francisco

Foster + Partners, with Heller Manus Architects, has been commissioned to design a two tower, two million square foot mixed-use development in San Francisco. The expansive “First and Mission” will be marked by a 605-foot “world class condominium” tower - which will be the tallest residential project on the West Coast - and a 850-foot “large floor plate office tower.” Together they will add more than a million square feet of flexible office and commercial space, as well as 650,000 square feet of residential units to the Transbay Area.

VIDEO: Yale School of Management / Foster + Partners

Our friends at Arbuckle Industries has shared this short clip that takes you inside Foster + Partners' Yale School of ManagementCompleted earlier this year, the new school unites Yale’s faculty departments at the Edward P. Evans Hall with world-class teaching facilities and collaborative social spaces. This, as the architects described, brings a new level of transparency to education, abandoning traditionally closed-off courtyard buildings for an open design that embraces the campus community. More stunning images and information on the project can be found here

The Gherkin: How London’s Famous Tower Leveraged Risk and Became an Icon (Part 4)

This four part series (originally published on Aggregate’s website) examines the Gherkin, the London office tower designed by Foster + Partners, showing how the urban icon engaged and leveraged perceptions of risk. In part one, author Jonathan Massey introduced the concept of "risk design” to describe how the Gherkin’s design managed the risks posed by climate change, terrorism, and globalization. In parts two and three, Massey examined the building’s treatment of risks associated with climate change and terrorism. In this final installment, Massey concludes by addressing the building’s engagement with risks posed to the City of London by globalization. 

Unlike New York and other cities in which zoning codes entitle landowners to some kinds of development “as of right,” the City of London regulates property development through case-by-case review by planning officers, who judge how well the proposed construction conforms to City-wide plans and guidelines regarding factors such as building height, development density, access to transit, and impact on views and the visual character of the area. In order to develop the Gherkin, the property owners and Swiss Re had to secure planning consent from the City Corporation through its chief planning officer, Peter Wynne Rees. The review and permitting process that culminated in the granting of planning consent in August 2000 spanned the planning office as well as the market, the courts, and the press. Rees brokered a multilateral negotiation so intensive that we could almost say the building was designed by bureaucracy. Part of that negotiation entailed imagining and staging risk: climate risk, terrorism risk, and, especially, the financial risks associated with globalization.

The Gherkin: How London’s Famous Tower Leveraged Risk and Became an Icon (Part 3)

This four part series (originally published on Aggregate’s website) examines the Gherkin, the London office tower designed by Foster + Partners, showing how the urban icon engaged and leveraged perceptions of risk. In part one, author Jonathan Massey introduced the concept of "risk design” to describe how the Gherkin’s design managed the risks posed by climate change, terrorism, and globalization. In part two, Massey examined the building’s treatment of climate risk. In part three, below, he explains how the Gherkin redesigned the risk imaginary associated with terrorism.

Mornings the Zamboni scrubs the plaza. Moving across the pavement in parallel lines connected by tight turns, the sweeper cleans the stone of cigarette butts and spilled food and beer left the night before by the underwriters and bankers who patronize the bar and shops in the building’s perimeter arcade as well as the adjacent restaurant that in fair weather sets up outdoor tables and chairs.

By pulling away from its irregular property lines, the tower achieves almost perfect formal autonomy from its context. The gap between the circular tower base and trapezoidal site boundaries forms a privately owned public space, a civic and commercial amenity in this densely built part of the City. 

The Gherkin: How London’s Famous Tower Leveraged Risk and Became an Icon (Part 2)

This four part series (originally published on Aggregate’s website) examines The Gherkin, the London office tower designed by Foster + Partners, showing how the urban icon engaged and leveraged perceptions of risk. In part one, author Jonathan Massey introduced the concept of "risk design” to describe how the Gherkin’s design managed the risks posed by climate change, terrorism, and globalization. In part two, below, Massey examines the Gherkin’s enclosure and ventilation systems in detail to explain how the building negotiated climate risk.

In a poster promoting London’s bid to host the Olympic Games, the Gherkin supported gymnast Ben Brown as he vaulted over the building’s conical peak. The image associated British athleticism and architecture as complementary manifestations of daring and skill, enlisting the Gherkin as evidence that London possessed the expertise and panache to handle the risk involved in hosting an Olympic Games.

But a poster created three years later offered a very different image. Created by activists from the Camp for Climate Action to publicize a mass protest at Heathrow Airport against the environmental degradation caused by air travel, this poster shows the Gherkin affording only precarious footing to a giant polar bear that swats at passing jets as its claws grasp at the slight relief offered by spiraling mullions and fins.

Gehry and Foster Selected to Regenerate Battersea Power Station

Gehry Partners and Foster + Partners have been selected to design phase three of the Battersea Power Station redevelopment project in London. Together, the prestigious duo will design a retail pedestrian street that will link the power station to the new Northern Line extension. In addition to this, each practice will design a residential building along the avenue, which will be Gehry’s first residential project in London. 

“Our goal is to help create a neighborhood and a place for people to live that respects the iconic Battersea Power Station while connecting it into the broader fabric of the city,” Gehry stated. “We hope to create a design that is uniquely London, that respects and celebrates the historical vernacular of the city.”

CTBUH Names Best Tall Buildings for 2013

Winner: CCTV; Beijing, China / OMA © Philippe Ruault
Winner: CCTV; Beijing, China / OMA © Philippe Ruault

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) has named _ distinctive towers from Canada, China, the UK and UAE as the best tall buildings in the world for 2013. Each selected project, judged by a panel of industry executives, have been selected for their “extraordinary contribution in the advancement of tall buildings and the urban environment, as well as for achieving sustainability at the broadest level.”

“The winners and finalists include some of the most striking buildings on the global landscape,” said Jeanne Gang, awards jury chair and principal of Studio Gang Architects. “They represent resolutions to a huge range of contemporary issues, from energy consumption to integration with the urban realm on the ground.” 

The 2013 winners are...

British Architects Seek Infrastructure Opportunities in Brazil

Led by UK housing minister Mark Prisk, architects from five high-profile British practices - Haworth Tompkins, Foster & Partners, Amanda Levete Architects, Avanti Architects and de Matos Ryan - have embarked on a week-long visit to Brazil in search of major infrastructure opportunities for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games. The trip is part of the UKBrasil Season, a six-month series of dynamic and engaging projects designed to showcase the best of British business, culture, science and innovation in Brazil and become the largest post-Olympic legacy project in the world.

Mark Prisk stated: “Brazilian companies in these cities are actively looking for fast-track construction systems, innovative building materials and low carbon solutions to meet current and future demand, not only in preparation for hosting the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games but also to compete in the country’s many major infrastructure projects.

More after the break...

Foster + Partners To 3D Print Structures on the Moon

© Foster + Partners
© Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners, in conjunction with the European Space Agency (ESA), has undertaken a study to explore the possibilities of using 3D printing to construct lunar habitations on the moon's southern pole (where there is near perpetual sunlight). The firm has already designed a lunar base that could house four people, and has begun to test the structure in a vacuum chamber that echoes lunar conditions. 

The shell of the base, which has a hollow closed cellular structure inspired by natural biological systems, should be able to protect potential inhabitants from "meteorites, gamma radiation and high temperature fluctuations." According to Xavier De Kestelier, Partner at Foster + Partners, the firm is "used to designing for extreme climates on earth and exploiting the environmental benefits of using local, sustainable materials – our lunar habitation follows a similar logic."

The study will also address the challenges of transporting materials to the moon, and is investigating the use of lunar soil, known as regolith, as the potential building matter. 

More details from Foster + Partners' Press Release, after the break:

Alda Louis Huxtable Takes On The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library's (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.
The New York Public Library's (NYPL) main building on Fifth Avenue, is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece designed by architects Carrère & Hastings. Image via Flickr User CC wallyg.

The New York Public Library has a plan to save millions of dollars, improve efficiency, and reverse the cutbacks that have been plaguing it. How? By sending little-used resources off-site (after all, most people use the library for its online resources these days), the Library will consolidate three libraries into one Mid-Manhattan branch, renovating the building with a streamlined, efficient design - courtesy of Foster + Partners - to create "the largest combined research and circulating library in the country."

It sounds like a wonderful, modern solution. Ms. Alda Louis Huxtable would beg to differ.

The former New York Times architecture critic and current critic for the Wall Street Journal has come out swinging against the plan. First, she builds on the critique that others have made, that by moving volumes off-site (to New Jersey, or "Siberia, as she puts it) to make room for more modern amenities, the library will devalue its primary purpose (making resources readily accessible). To put it another way, as Scott Sherman did in his article for The Nation, it would turn the library into “a glorified internet café.” Then, Huxtable makes her own argument: that removing the current, intricate system of stacks would be an enormously complex, expensive, and hopelessly misguided structural challenge.

But, ultimately Ms. Huxtable’s argument comes down to the intrinsic architectural and cultural value of this Beaux Arts Masterpiece: “You don't "update" a masterpiece.” 

More on the Ms. Huxtable incendiary critique of The New York Public Library’s Central Plan, after the break...

Ground Zero Master Plan / Studio Daniel Libeskind

With last year’s opening of the 9/11 Memorial at Ground Zero and the near-completion of the World Trade Center One, Daniel Libeskind’s vision for the World Trade Center site is close to presenting the future of NYC’s downtown financial center, 11 years after the attacks. Studio Daniel Libeskind was selected to develop the master plan for the site in 2003, and since has been coordinating with NYC’s numerous agencies and individual architects to rebuild the site. The project, in Libeskind’s words, is a “healing of New York”, a “site of memory” and “a space to witness the resilience of America”. Follow us after the break for more on the elements and progress of the master plan.