Happy Birthday Sir Norman Foster

Sir Norman Foster, arguably the leader of a generation of British architects, turns 79 today. Foster gained recognition as early as the 1970s as a key architect in the high-tech movement, which continues to have a profound impact on architecture as we know it today.

Foster’s architecture is remarkably diverse; he has designed skyscrapers, offices, galleries, airports, , parliament buildings, city masterplans and even a spaceport. Yet his work is unified by one theme, identified in the jury citation for his 1999 Pritzker Prize: “from his very first projects, it was evident that he would embrace the most advanced technology appropriate to the task”. It is this devotion to the latest architectural technology that earned him his place in the high-tech movement, with buildings such as the Willis Faber & Dumas and the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts.

Since these early successes, his practice Foster + Partners has been prolific, earning Foster two Stirling Prizes, an RIBA Gold Medal, an AIA Gold Medal and a knighthood in addition to his Pritzker Prize. Designs such as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, The Gherkin in London, The Hearst Tower in New York and Masdar City have ensured that Foster has secured his place as one of the greatest architects of the 21st century. On the occasion of Sir Norman Foster’s birthday, we invite you to look at some of the outstanding projects from his exceptional career.

Foster and Chipperfield Among Firms Shortlisted for Qatar’s 2022 Centerpiece

’ Previous Design for the ‘Lusail Iconic Stadium’ which formed part of ’s bid for the World Cup. Image Courtesy of Foster + Partners

Four firms have been shortlisted to design Qatar‘s Lusail Stadium, the centerpiece for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Foster + Partners, David Chipperfield Architects, Mossessian & Partners and Mangera Yvars Architects are now competing to design the 80,000 seat stadium which will host the international event alongside Zaha Hadid‘s Al Wakrah stadium and others.

Read on after the break for more on the shortlist

Norman Foster Reasserts Belief in Thames Estuary Airport

Courtesy of Foster + Partners

In response to the UK Airports Commission’s call for evidence, Foster + Partners has released a detailed feasibility study supporting their plans for a new airport on the Isle of Grain in the Thames Estuary. Their plan proposes a four-runway built on a 35 square kilometre platform constructed partially in the mouth of the Thames. The scheme is popularly called “Boris Island” thanks to its most prominent supporter, Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

Norman Foster said “Since the Airports Commission submission a year ago, the need for increased airport capacity has become even more urgent. It is time to get serious about the issue of airport capacity. Britain needs an effective long-term solution, not the usual short-term fix that is Heathrow’s proposed third runway. London today needs to follow in the footsteps of its nineteenth-century forebears and invest boldly in infrastructure. Only long-term thinking will properly serve the demands of our future generations.”

Read on for a breakdown of the information contained in the report

AJ Ranks the UK’s 100 Top Architecture Practices

© Nigel Young / Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners has been named the UK‘s biggest architecture practice for the third year running in the annual AJ100 run by the Architects’ Journal. The list of the top 100 architecture practices in the , based on the number of fully qualified architects employed, was announced at an awards ceremony last night in London.

In the past year Foster + Partners has almost doubled its lead at the top of the list, with its 290 architects putting it 87 ahead of second-place rival BDP, showing how the practice dominates the architecture world not just culturally, but also in terms of business size.

See the top 10 UK practices, as well as the results of the accompanying AJ100 Awards, after the break

Foster + Partners’ Unfinished Vegas Tower Approved for Demolition

Harmon Hotel via Wikimedia Commons

A court approved ruling has sealed the fate of Foster + Partners’ half-built Harmon Hotel in Las Vegas. Unfinished due to structural defects, the 27-story tower was once envisioned to be the staple of the $8.5 billion CityCenter entertainment complex. However, since problems arose in 2008, the stunted hotel and casino has instead served as a glorified billboard.

Though it has yet to be determined who will be blamed for the faulty construction, owner MGM Resorts International has been granted permission to dismantle the blue glass building floor-by-floor at a cost of $11.5 million.

New York Public Library Scraps Foster-Designed Renovation Plans

renovation scheme. Rendering by dbox. Image Courtesy of

The New York Public Library (NYPL) has abandoned Norman Foster’s controversial plans to transform part of its 20th century Carrère and Hastings “masterpiece” into a circulating library. The news doesn’t come as much of a surprise, considering the city’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio expressed skepticism towards the $150 million renovation earlier this year. 

According to a report by the New York Times, Blasio does not intend on reducing the NYPL funding, however the money will now be allocated to other purposes. 

Several library trustees have stated that in order to keep up with the cultural shift from traditional stacks to online resources, they now intend on completing the renovation of the library’s mid-Manhattan branch on Fifth Avenue. 

A response from Norman Foster, after the break…

Results of the 2014 European Prize for Urban Public Space

The Braided Valley / Grupo Aranea. Image © Jesus Granada

The results of the 2014 European Prize for Urban Public Space have been announced. The prize organized by the Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) rewards both the designers and the facilitators (such as councils or community groups) that have contributed to the best urban interventions of the year. The award is given for ingenuity and social impact, regardless of the scale of intervention, meaning that small, relatively unknown practices can rub shoulders with some of the best-known practices in .

See the 2 Joint Winners and 4 Special Mentions after the break

Foster + Partners Submit Plans for One of Britain’s Tallest Towers

© Foster + Partners

Foster + Partners has submitted plans for what would be the tallest residential tower in the . The “world-class development” includes a 73- and 36-story tower that would add more than 900 homes and 6,000 square meters of public space to the Isle of Dogs in east .

“We will provide much-needed new homes, including new affordable homes, over an acre of new and enhanced public open space, a re-activated waterfront on to South Dock and the Millwall Cutting, as well as space for retail, bars and restaurants,” Berkeley Homes regional managing director Harry Lewis. “This is a rare opportunity to deliver such significant, high-quality public realm in Canary Wharf.”

New Video (and Images) Reveal Original Intent Behind Apple Campus 2

YouTube Preview Image

UPDATE: Did you know that Campus 2 will be solely powered by renewable energy? Also, 80 percent of its 176-acre campus will be entirely dedicated to green space. Watch the newly released Norman Foster interview (above) to learn more about the project’s sustainable features, as well as details about Steve Job’s original inspiration. The following news was originally published as “New Images Released of Apple’s Recently Approved Cupertino Campus” on November 13, 2013. 

Shortly after the approval of Apple’s new corporate headquarters in Cupertino, never-before-seen images have emerged to reveal a glimpse into the campus’ massive, 2.8 million square foot “mothership” and its surrounding facilities.

Provided by the City of Cupertino and released by Wired, the images depict just what Steve Job’s hoped for: a world-class, state-of-the-art office campus that promotes innovation through vibrant communal spaces and healthy employee amenities. From the net-positive main building to a private, subterranean auditorium placed within a forested, California-native landscape by OLIN, the -designed Apple Campus 2 has the potential to be, as Job’s believed, “the best office building in the world.”

A collection of the newly released renderings, after the break…

Mexico City Shortlists Seven Architects for Major Airport Expansion

Zagreb Airport Competition Proposal / ZHA ©

Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers are among seven international practices listed to compete for a 5,000 hectare expansion that hopes to “alleviate severe congestion” at the City airport. With each team led by Mexican firms, the shortlisted architects, which also include SOM, Gensler, Pascall+Watson and Teodoro González de León with Taller de Arquitectura X, have been asked to envision a 70-gate, phased expansion capable of hosting 40-million passengers per year. A schematic masterplan has been provided by Arup. Completion of the first phases is tentatively planned for 2018. 

Wingårdhs Bests Snøhetta, Foster + Partners in Statoil Competition

© Wingårdhs

A jury of seven, consisting of three architects and four Statoil employees, unanimously chose Wingårdhs’ design proposal—dubbed “E=mc2″—for the company’s campus at Forus West in Norway. Four other firms were shortlisted along with Wingårdhs: Foster + Partners () together with Space Group (Norway), OMA (the Netherlands), Snøhetta (Norway) and Helen & Hard (Norway) together with SAHAA (Norway). OMA, however, pulled out of the competition before the final submission.

The competition consisted of a proposal for an office building for 3500 work places and a masterplan for the entire Statoil property at Forus West. Wingårdhs’ design features an elliptical, chamfered building that tapers to 16 stories, set within a masterplan that will give the company a high degree of flexibility for future development. Statoil announced on Thursday that “The jury sees the potential for [E=mc2"] to be a distinct identity carrier for Statoil, which will both strengthen the Forus area and give Statoil employees pride and inspiration. The project has a significant innovative nature through advanced technological solutions, which fits well with Statoil as a leading technology company. Its clear inclined surface towards the sun is suitable for Statoil’s energy and environmental ambitions.”

More information about Wingårdhs’ winning proposal and images of the other teams’ proposals can be found after the break.

Foster + Partners’ New York Public Library Redesign in State of Limbo

© dbox, Courtesy of

Foster + Partner’s controversial renovation plans for the Public Library (NYPL) are currently in a state of limbo while the city decides their course of action. Foster’s proposal for the 20th century Carrère and Hastings “masterpiece” on 5th Avenue is a response to the cultural shift from traditional stacks to online resources, as the library has experienced a 41% decrease in the use of collections over the last 15 years. 

Norman Foster’s Ultra-Thin Condominum Tower to Rise Above Seagram Building

610 Lexington Avenue. Image ©

Construction is officially underway on 610 Lexington Avenue, a 700-foot ultra-thin condominium tower designed by Foster + Partners in City. Designed as a contrast to its neighboring landmark, Mies van der Rohe’s midcentury Seagram Building, the slim 61-story tower will feature 91 luxury units encased within a pure white glass facade.

Proposals for Statoil’s Norway HQ from OMA, Foster + Partners, Snøhetta and More

© Harald Pettersen / Statoil

Norwegian energy corporation Statoil has revealed proposals for a new corporate headquarters from the five architecture firms that were shortlisted last October: OMA, Foster + Partners with Space Group, Snøhetta, Wingårdhs, and Helen & Hard with SAAHA. The competition–announced in September of 2013–called for a project that would ”take into consideration a number of new measures in the region regarding public transport, parking, roads and other types of infrastructure.” The winner will be announced in April/May. 

Statoil hasn’t disclosed which project belongs to which firm, but the ArchDaily editors have had some fun trying to put a name to each model. What do you think? Let us know your guesses in the comments!

Grade A Architecture: The World’s Most Spectacular University Buildings

Lecture halls at dizzying heights, libraries with -domed roofs or crooked seminar rooms with slanting walls – it is not just in the field of learning that universities have plenty to offer, but on an architectural level, too. From the historic Universiteitsbibliotheek KU Leuven of 1928 to the enormous sphere of the Philologische Bibliothek in Berlin to the brand-new, tent-like Campus Luigi Einaudi in Turin: Emporis, the international provider of building data, has compiled a selection of the most spectacular university buildings from around the world. 

Apple’s Revised San Francisco Store Approved

Courtesy of

Third time’s the charm, at least in the case of Apple’s Foster + Partners-designed flagship store planned for San Francisco’s historic Union Square. After being sent back to the drawings boards on multiple occasions, the signature box’s third proposal (which was claimed to be “more iconic” than the company’s famous Five Avenue glass cube in New York City) has been awarded approval from the city.

New Images Released of Foster + Partners’ Luxury Manhattan Condominium

© Hayes Davidson, Courtesy of

Foster + Partners has released new images of their revised, 19-story luxury condominium tower planned for West Chelsea in . Named after its address, 551 West 21st Street, the cast-concrete and glass structure plans to open its 44 residences, and three penthouses, to occupancy in the Fall of 2015. 

Why The Skycycle Would Never Work

Is this the answer to London’s cycle safety woes?. Image ©

Writing for Future Cape Town, this article by Julia Thayne – originally titled The Skycycle: A Plan for the People? - explores the proposal by Foster + Partners to build an elevated cycle highway above London’s, explaining why it is little more than an optimistic pipe-dream.

Headlines in London this November were grim. Six cyclist deaths in less than a fortnight. All but one cyclist killed in accidents involving trucks, buses, or coaches. People were understandably concerned. From 3,000 miles away, my mother sent me a fluorescent coat and another set of bike lights, and as a cyclist commuter, I avoided roundabouts that I had previously sailed through, noting that cars seemed to be driving more slowly and other cyclists thinking twice before flouting traffic laws.

In response to the deaths, the public and public sector alike launched a “cycling state of emergency.” Officers patrolled the streets to ticket both vehicles driving unsafely and cyclists disobeying road rules. A thousand citizens gathered for a candlelight vigil at the roundabout where three cyclists’ lives had been claimed. Another thousand staged a “die-in” outside of Transport for London’s headquarters, in which protesters lay down in the streets, using their bicycles to block traffic. Newspaper columns, magazine articles, and blog spots examined and re-examined the safety of cycling routes around London. Mayor Boris Johnson’s Cycle Superhighways (four blue-painted, supposedly safety-enhanced cycling routes around London) became a particularly contentious topic of discussion, as three of the six cyclist deaths during those two weeks (and of the 14 deaths thus far in 2013) had occurred on or near one of these routes.

From the conversation about cycling and safety, the Skycycle has emerged.

Read on for the problems with the Skycycle project