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.
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.
How does design change the nature and distribution of risk? In this, the first of four installments examining the Gherkin, the London office tower and urban icon designed by Foster + Partners, author Jonathan Massey introduces the concept of “risk design.” The series, originally published on Aggregate’s website, explains how the Gherkin leveraged perceptions of risk to generate profits, promote economic growth, and raise the currency of design expertise.
Back the Bid. Leap for London. Make Britain Proud. Emblazoned across photomontages of oversized athletes jumping over, diving off, and shooting for architectural landmarks old and new, these slogans appeared in 2004 on posters encouraging Londoners to support the city’s bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. Featured twice in the series of six posters—along with Buckingham Palace, Nelson’s Column, the Tower Bridge, the London Eye, and the Thames Barrier—was 30 St Mary Axe, the office tower known colloquially as the Gherkin for its resemblance to a pickle, or as the Swiss Re building, after the Zurich-based reinsurance company that commissioned the building and remains its major tenant.
It has been a long road for Foster + Partners‘s team since first taking on the design for Apple’s new campus in 2009. Four years later, despite the criticism and budget concerns, plans for Apple’s corporate headquarters have been approved by Cupertino’s planning commission. A recent video from the Cupertino City Council reveals some insight into the design decisions, including statements by Sir Norman Foster. As Foster states in the video, CEO Steve Jobs called him “out of the blue” in 2009 and said, “It’s Steve: Hi Norman, I need some help.”
UPDATE: Although having already cleared a preliminary vote, the Apple HQ was given unanimous approval from the Cupertino council yesterday. One “largely perfunctory” vote remains for November 15th. Detailed images, after the break.
Richard Nieva (CNET) reports that plans for Apple’s new corporate headquarters have been approved by Cupertino’s planning commission (the final, deciding vote will be in
May November 2014). The “spaceship”, designed by Foster + Partners in collaboration with Kier & Wright, will cover 2.8 million square feet, host up to 14,000 employees, include ”a 600-seat restaurant with four-story glass sliding doors”, be surrounded by over 6000 trees, and – to top it off – come with a price tag close to $5 billion.
Architects: Foster + Partners
Location: Free University of Berlin, Koserstraße 20, 14195 Berlin, Germany
Architects In Charge: Norman Foster, David Nelson, Stefan Behling, Christian Hallmann, Ulrich Hamann, Ingo Pott
Project Team: Bettina Bauer, Stefan Baumgart, Florian Boxberg, Mark Braun, Niels Brockenhuus-Schack, Andre Heukamp, Stanley Fuls, Ulrich Goertz, Wendelin Hinsch, Andreas Medinger, Jan Roth, Diana Schaffrannek, David Schröder, Mark Sutcliffe, Hugh Whitehead
Photographs: Reinhard Gorner, Nigel Young – Foster + Partners, Rudi Meisel
In a recent article for the Financial Times, Edwin Heathcote explores the ‘Skyscraper Index’, an informal term that suggests a correlation between the construction of a big company’s ambitious headquarters and subsequent financial crisis: “Think of the Empire State Building opening into the Wall Street crash of 1929, the Twin Towers being completed as New York City was flirting with bankruptcy or the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur taking the mantle of the world’s tallest building and presaging the Asian financial crisis.” Heathcote goes on to describe the latest generation of headquarters being constructed for our current, tech-oriented goliaths – like Apple‘s monolithic “donut”, by Foster + Partners, and Facebook‘s Gehry-designed Menlo Park campus - and wonders: “if skyscrapers can tell us something about the temperature of an overheating economy, what do these groundscraping new HQs say?” Read the full article here.
The RIBA and the Mayor of London’s Office has revealed the five shortlisted designs for the new Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) headquarters, set for completion in 2015. The proposed designs, attracting submissions from Foster + Partners, Allies & Morrison, Keith Williams Architects, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, will be located in the Whitehall Conservation Area and be renamed back to ‘Scotland Yard’.
Read more after the break…
Earlier this summer we reviewed plans for a new Foster + Partners-designed Apple Store in the heart of San Francisco which received a considerable amount of backlash for its accused ubiquitous design that disregarded the city’s historic Ruth Asawa Fountain. Since, Apple has decided to respond to the complaints and Foster + Partners have just released images of the revised design that preserves the fountain.
Norman Foster has walked away from a $670 million expansion project for Moscow’s largest museum of European art: The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. According to The Art Newspaper, the prized British architect resigned from the project back in June after Moscow’s chief architect, Sergei Kuznetsov issued an ultimatum that demanded Foster either work and defend the project himself or turn it down.
Three months ago, Commander Chris Hadfield captured the attention of millions by recording a cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity – entirely on board the International Space Station. The video was the culmination of five months of social media efforts to raise awareness and interest in current space programs worldwide, and it certainly seems that Hadfield succeeded in piquing the interest of at least a few future astronauts.
But for architects, something else probably stands out in the video: the ISS seems an extremely clinical and uncomfortable environment to live in for five months. The reasons for this are obvious: it is a highly controlled engineered environment; sending luxuries into orbit is expensive; the astronauts are there to work, and after all they are trained to cope in stressful and uncomfortable environments. However, with proposals for longer missions, such as a manned trip to Mars, as well as the continued promise of commercial spaceflight on the horizon, the design of living spaces outside of our own planet may soon become an issue which architects must get involved in.
Read on to find out about the challenges of architecture in space, after the break.
Architects: Foster + Partners, Marco Visconti
Location: Torino, Italy
Project Manager: Piero Cornaglia, Antonio Presicce, Aldo Celano, Sabrina Gambino
Foster + Partners Design Team: David Nelson, Gerard Evenden, John Blythe, Martin Castle, Martina Meluzzi, Giulia Galiberti, Marilu Sicoli
Collaborators: Camerana & Partners – Benedetto Camerana, Giugiaro Architettura Srl – Aldo Cingolani, ICIS Srl – Cosimo Turvani, Mara Luciani, Studio Mellano Associati – Franco Mellano
Photographs: Courtesy of Nigel Young – Foster + Partners, Michele D’Ottavio, David Vicario
Foster + Partners have completed their first project for a commercial aircraft: the first class cabin for Cathay Pacific’s fleet of Boeing 777s. The firm is no stranger to the marriage of architecture and industrial design; they’ve not only designed yachts and private jets, but have also designed Cathay Pacific’s business lounges at Hong Kong International Airport, even developing bespoke furniture (The Solus Chair) for them as well. See more images of the lounge, after the break…
Five London-based firms - AHMM, Allies & Morrison, Foster & Partners, Keith Williams Architects and Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands - have been selected to compete for the “Scotland Yard” redevelopment of the abandoned Curtis Green MPS building on the Victoria Embankment. As reported by BDOnline, the shortlisted firms will each propose a “landmark building for London” that will provide a “modern and efficient working environment” for the new Metropolitan Police Service Headquarters. The judging panel, spearheaded by architect Bill Taylor and RIBA Adviser Taylor Snell, will review the proposals in September.
Norman Foster’s Swiss Re Headquarters, a.k.a. “The Gherkin,” has been selected as the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s (CTBUH) first 10 Year Award recipient. The uniquely-shaped skyscraper, as described by CTBUH, “cleared the way for a new generation of tall buildings in London and beyond. Ten years on, its tapering form and diagonal bracing structure afford numerous benefits: programmatic flexibility, naturally ventilated internal social spaces that provide user comfort while reducing energy demand, and ample, protected public space at the ground level.”
Foster + Partners have released new images of the luxurious, 18-story Faena House currently being constructed in Miami. Argentinean developer Alan Faena, who is best known for transforming Buenos Aires’ abandoned Puerto Madero neighborhood into the city’s most vital culture center, commissioned the project, which will mark the first phase of the anticipated Faena District in Miami Beach. Once complete, the district will include a five-star hotel, a large and versatile Arts Center, an OMA-designed parking complex, a luxury retail complex, and a marina.
The Architectural Association and Foster + Partners have announced John Naylor of Diploma Unit 16 as the 2013 Foster + Partners Prize recipient for his project ‘Bamboo Lakou’. Presented annually, the award is presented to an AA Diploma student whose portfolio best addresses the themes of sustainability and infrastructure.
Brett Steele, Director of the Architectural Association School of Architecture, said: “John Naylor’s project demonstrates the ways in which infrastructural ideas – and architectural imagination – might today expand beyond the clichés of Modernism to become life itself, literally breathing life into communities, cities and entire countries – today and long into the future.”
More on the project after the break…