This past May, Apple filed plans to close its existing flagship retail store at 1 Stockton Street in San Francisco and move it three blocks north to one of the city’s most popular spots: Union Square. This plan was met with enthusiasm from city officials until they realized that Apple, and the store’s architects at Foster + Partners, were disregarding a beloved bronze folk art fountain by San Francisco sculptor Ruth Asawa that currently occupies the site. Many have also criticized the store’s design for being a characterless box of metal and glass that contributes nothing unique to the local landscape, raising awareness of a commercial architecture defined more by trademark and less by its surroundings.
More on Apple’s proposal in San Francisco and the problems of trademarked design after the break.
Sir Norman Foster, arguably the leader of a generation of British architects, turns 78 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, stadiums, 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 headquarters 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:
Located at the mouth of Marseille, the Vieux Port Pavilion, designed by Foster + Partners, provides a new sheltered events space on the eastern edge of the port. Bringing new focus to the city, these photographs by Edmund Sumner demonstrate the stainless steel canopy’s ability to amplify and reflect the surrounding movement of the harbor, creating a spectacle that encourages pedestrians to linger. Since its opening early this year, the project is truly an invitation to the people of Marseille to enjoy and use this grand space for events, markets and celebrations once again. A complete gallery of Sumner’s images can be viewed after the break.
Foster + Partners has been selected to developed a proposal for a low energy, high-density residential community in Islington, London. The site is a 1980s business park that is to be regenerated into a residential zone of two towers and a landscaped park. The project will incorporate the arera’s planned high-rise buildings and is ultimately set to provide a new landmark for the city.
Architects: Foster + Partners
Location: Luisenstraße 33, 80333 Munich, Germany
Design Team: Norman Foster, David Nelson, Stefan Behling, Christian Hallmann, Ulrich Hamann, Klaus Heldwein, Florian Boxberg, Leonhard Weil, Judith Kernt, Henriette Hahnloser, Eike Danz, Diana Krumbein, Simon Weismaier, Christopher Von Der Howen, Inge Tummers, Jörg Grabfelder, Katrin Hass, Tillmann Lenz
Area: 12328.0 sqm
Photographs: Nigel Young / Foster + Partners
The City of Cupertino has released Apple’s revised campus plans, following the recent news criticizing Steve Job’s “sky-high requirements for fit and finish” that have resulted in a “ballooning budget.”
Abandoning Apple’s classic “white” detailing, architects Foster + Partners have opted to clad the 2.8 million square foot, circular monolith in black – a stylistic remedy that seems to be in line with the overarching campus goal to “provide a serene environment reflecting Apple’s brand values of innovation, ease of use and beauty.”
More details after the break…
The estimated cost of Apple’s Cupertino City headquarters has escalated from an already hefty price of $3 billion to $5 billion (more than $1,500 per square foot), reportedly pushing back the original completion date to 2016. According to Bloomberg, Apple is working with lead architect Foster & Partners to shave $1 billion from the “ballooning budget”. Most of the cost is seemly due to Steve Job’s “sky-high requirements for fit and finish”, as the tech legend called for the 2.8 million square foot, circular monolith to be clad 40-foot panes of German concave glass, along with its four-story office spaces be lined with museum-quality terrazzo floors and capped with polished concrete ceilings.
Although lambasted for his ambitious plans and “doughnut-shaped” design, Steve Jobs wanted to create a masterpiece that looked as good as it functioned, just like his products. During a 2011 presentation to the Cupertino City Council, Jobs stated, “This is not the cheapest way to build something… there is not a straight piece of glass in this building.” He continued, “We have a shot… at building the best office building in the world. I really do think that architecture students will come here to see it.”
More after the break…
Foster + Partners have received the green light from the Lambeth Council for three mixed use towers on the 20-21 Albert Embankment in London. Ranging from 15 to 27 stories, the curved steel and glass structures will provide the area with 253 apartments, including affordable homes for senior living, along with offices, restaurants and a residents’ bar, gym, pool and spa.
Grant Brooker, Senior Partner at Foster + Partners: “We are absolutely delighted that 20-21 Albert Embankment has received planning permission – working alongside our clients at St. James and with great support from Lambeth and the GLA, we hope to transform this important and highly visible site into a vibrant riverside community that sets a benchmark for the regeneration of this part of the river.”
More after the break…
Saturday in Marseille, France, pedestrians and city officials joined Foster + Partners to celebrate the completion of the Vieux Port Pavilion at the mouth of Marseille’s World Heritage-listed harbor. Minimal, yet effective, this “discreet” intervention provides a new sheltered events space on the eastern edge of the port. With six slender pillars supporting its razor-thin profile, the polished 46 by 22 meter stainless steel canopy amplifies and reflects the surrounding movement of the harbor, creating a spectacle that encourages pedestrians to linger.
More on Foster’s Vieux Port Pavilion after the break…
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 have confirmed that they will submit their proposal for a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary to the Airports Commission, an organisation investigating airport capacity in the UK, by mid-July. The submission will be an important step towards getting government approval of the plan.
The airport, which will have four runways (the potential to expand to six) and capacity for 150 million passengers, is part of Foster + Partners’ Thames Hub proposal. The hub would be built on a platform on the Isle of Grain in the Thames Estuary and be connected to London via a spur linking directly to the existing high-speed rail line; in this way, Foster + Partners hope that it would eliminate the environmental, noise and security problems that come with the UK’s dependence on Heathrow Airport.
The self-funded Thames Hub vision was first made public in 2011. See our previous coverage: here.
Story via Foster + Partners
The 2013 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has recently been launched and is inviting applications from schools of architecture around the world. Proposals for research might include: learning from the past to inform the future; the future of society; the density of settlements; sustainability; the use of resources; the quality of urban life; and transport. A £6,000 grant will be awarded to one student by a panel of judges which includes Lord Foster and the President of the RIBA. The deadline for submissions is Friday, April 26. For more information, please visit here.
On the advice of English Heritage, architecture minister Ed Vaizey has listed Norman Foster’s first major public building: the 1977 Sainsbury Centre at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, in the United Kingdom. According to BDOnline, the popular public art museum, which houses the collection of Lord and Lady Sainsbury, was granted grade II* protection for its innovative engineering, fine design, historic association, flexibility and group value. Its revolutionary design features an innovative, prefabricated modular structure that is cleverly designed to allow for subsequent extension.
Vaizey described: “Norman Foster’s design for the Sainsbury Centre is recognized around the world as a high point of the British ‘high-tech’ movement and, by any standards, a modern classic.”
Read Foster’s response after the break.
The New York Public Library (NYPL) has unveiled the details of their controversial plan to renovate the 20th century, Carrère and Hastings “masterpiece” on 5th Avenue. Designed Foster + Partners, the $300 million dollar proposal 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.
Sensitive to concerned critics, the renovation promises to preserve the building’s legacy as it integrates a new, state-of-the-art Circulating Library into its flagship Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on 42nd Street. Foster’s “library within a library” will transform seven floors of stacks, currently occupying the back of the building, into an aesthetically, technologically and environmentally advanced public space that meets the needs of our 21st century society.
“We need to be respectful of the beloved, iconic building and to create a new inspiring space,” Anthony W. Marx, the library’s president, said in an interview with the New York Times. “At a time when people wonder about the future of libraries, we’re going to create the greatest library the world has ever seen.”
Learn all the details and see the renderings after the break…
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. Ada Louise 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…