Arguably the leading name of a generation of internationally high-profile British architects, Norman Foster (born 1 June 1935)—or to give him his full title Norman Robert Foster, Baron Foster of Thames Bank of Reddish, OM, HonFREng—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.
With the opening of the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale comes a look at the first ever contribution by the Holy See, an exhibition that brings together architects to design chapels that, after the Biennale, can be relocated to sites around the globe.
Located in a wooded area on the Venetian island of San Giorgio Maggiore, 10 chapels by architects including Norman Foster, Eduardo Souto de Moura, and Smiljan Radic, are joined by the Asplund Chapel by MAP Architects. This 11th structure serves as a prelude to the other chapels, while reflecting on Gunnar Asplund's 1920 design for the Woodland Chapel.
After being knighted in 1990 for services to architecture, winning the 1999 Pritzker Prize and then gaining peerage in the same year, it could be argued that there is no living architect that has had a larger impact on urban life than Norman Foster. In a recent talk, Foster addressed a sold-out Barbican Hall on the future of our growing urban landscape, in the seventh installment of the Architecture On Stage series organized by The Architecture Foundation with the Barbican. While the content was full of grandiose statements and predictions, of a scale similar to the projects Foster's practice undertakes, it was the problem-solving approach he showed that gave more of an insight into the man himself. The following 5 lessons gleaned from the presentation won't guarantee Foster-like levels of success, but they may be able to help you navigate the challenges that architecture can present, both personally and professionally.
The argument, made by architectural historian Charles Jencks in the introduction for the recently released book Postmodern Design Complete, that Postmodern styles never truly left the architectural profession is stronger than ever. The movement from the late 70s and 80s which began as a reaction against the utopian canon of modernism has recently been re-entering the architecture scene and defining our present moment of architectural culture.
This brings up an important question: What is the current movement of architecture? And what came directly after postmodernism? If anything, it was an immediate cry of “No more Po-Mo,” followed recently by a wave of “save Po-Mo” perhaps best demonstrated by the rallying to save Philip Johnson’s AT&T Tower from a Snøhetta makeover. Even Norman Foster claimed that although he was never a fan of the postmodern movement, he understood its importance in architectural history. Postmodernism is making its recursive return with Stirling-esque rule-breaking jokes and pictorial appearances.
The Pritzker Prize is the most important award in the field of architecture, awarded to a living architect whose built work "has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity through the art of architecture." The Prize rewards individuals, not entire offices, as took place in 2000 (when the jury selected Rem Koolhaas instead of his firm OMA) or in 2016 (with Alejandro Aravena selected instead of Elemental); however, the prize can also be awarded to multiple individuals working together, as took place in 2001 (Herzog & de Meuron), 2010 (Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA), and 2017 (Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta of RCR Arquitectes).
The award is an initiative funded by Jay Pritzker through the Hyatt Foundation, an organization associated with the hotel company of the same name that Jay founded with his brother Donald in 1957. The award was first given in 1979, when the American architect Philip Johnson, was awarded for his iconic works such as the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut.
The Pritzker Prize has been awarded for almost forty straight years without interruption, and there are now 18 countries with at least one winning architect. To date, half of the winners are European; while the Americas, Asia, and Oceania share the other twenty editions. So far, no African architect has been awarded, making it the only continent without a winner.
In 2018 the Vatican will participate in the Venice Architecture Biennale for the first time. Ten international architects will construct 10 different chapels as part of the representation of the city-state in the Italian architecture event. The news was confirmed by Paraguayan media outlets ABC y Última Hora, who revealed that one of the participants was local architect Javier Corvalán.
The elite group of architects was selected by Francesco Dal Co, an Italian architecture historian and curator. The designers have been instructed that their chapels must be able to be relocated so that they can be deployed around the world, in places that are in need of these spaces of worship.
The architects who will build chapels in the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale:
Lord Norman Foster has been named the next President of the UK’s Royal Fine Art Commission Trust, an independent charity aimed at promoting “visual awareness and public appreciation of high-quality design” within the United Kingdom.
Chaired by one of architecture’s foremost patrons, Lord Peter Palumbo, the organization was established in 1987 as a complement to the Royal Fine Art Commission (since absorbed into the UK Design Council), the Government’s advisor on matters affecting public amenity and aesthetics in England and Wales.
The Visitor's Center at Apple's new Cupertino campus has opened to the public. As the public face of a vast complex designed by Foster + Partners, the independent building is "a uniquely designed architectural extension" of the company's new headquarters. "With similar aesthetics in staircases, stone walls, and terrazzo floors," the center’s "cantilevered carbon fiber roof appears to float," supported only "by stone clad cores and no other extraneous columns for support."
Your obsession with transit-oriented design has been answered with the newest map series by Blue Crow Media. The first in this series, London Underground Architecture and Design Map curates original content by transport design historian, Mark Ovenden paired with photography by Will Scott to depict the London Underground. Mark Ovenden is a specialist in graphic design, cartography, and architecture in public transport with an emphasis on underground rapid transit, making him the natural fit for the design of this map.
If you’re trying to get buildings that work with nature, that consume less energy, that are more healthy, and more joyful, you need to go out to a younger generation, and try to anticipate the future
- Norman Foster
Even for a career filled with an impressive number of peaks, right now Norman Foster seems to be having a particular moment, with the completion of the world's most sustainable office building in London and the recent opening of the new Madrid headquarter of his eponymous think tank, the Norman Foster Foundation.
These triumphs have an inspired a profile in the most recent edition of Surface Magazine that takes a look at the extraordinary path of Foster's career and how he has grown into one of the architecture world's most successful businessmen. Written by the magazine's executive editor, William Hanley, the story features quotes from Foster during his recent trips to Madrid and London on topics ranging from tackling world problems to becoming the go-to designer for Apple's corporate headquarters and flagship stores.
Bloomberg’s new European HQ, which is located in the heart of the City of London, has been rated the world’s most sustainable office building. Designed by Foster + Partners, the office complex has been awarded an Outstanding BREEAM rating, attaining a 98.5% score – the highest design-stage score ever achieved by any major office development.
How Narinder Sagoo And Foster + Partners Are Turning Architectural Preconceptions On Their Head (With A Pencil)
This short article, written by the author and critic Jonathan Glancey, coincides with the launch of the inaugural Architecture Drawing Prize – a competition curated by the World Architecture Festival, the Sir John Soane's Museum, and Make. The deadline for the award has been extended to September 25, 2017, and successful entries will be exhibited in both London and Berlin.
For architects, says Narinder Sagoo, Head of Design Communications at Foster + Partners, drawings are about story telling. They are also a highly effective way of raising questions about design projects. Although the history of architecture—certainly since the Italian Renaissance—has been mapped by compelling drawings asserting the primacy, and reflecting the glory, of fully resolved buildings, there is another strain of visualisation that has allowed architects to think through projects free of preconceptions.
Ahead of the official launch of the Steve Jobs Theater, a 1000-capacity auditorium at the heart of the new Apple Campus in Cupertino, California, new details about its design and construction have been revealed. According to Bloomberg, the entrance to the venue stands beneath “a silver disc,” whose supporting—and structural—glazed panels lend it the appearance of floating 20 feet above ground.
Norman Foster only began to casually upload photos to Instagram earlier this year. But don’t be fooled by his short tenure on the seven-year-old social media platform. At the ripe old age of 82, the British architect has demonstrated that his talents go far beyond designing buildings.
What makes Norman Foster’s Instagram feed more charming than Bjarke Ingels’, or more impressive that Richard Branson’s, is a complex mix of je ne sais quoi, athletic prowess, and a taste of the “he’s just like us!” Architects love that the photos provide behind-the-scenes insight into the life of one of the most prolific and revered professionals of our time. Behind the accolades and behind the Barony, we discover a man swimming, biking, rowing, and helicoptering his way into his eighth decade. It’s reassuring to see that an architect who has always sought to stand at the vanguard of the innovative and the bold doesn’t show signs of letting up anytime soon.
Lord Foster’s Instagram posts show us positive, human endeavors that we should respect as a profession: spending time with family, taking a vacation, and, most importantly, enjoying his work as an architect – a creative passion, or way of living, that permeates everything we do. If we are indeed moving beyond the age of “cults of personality” cultivated by the media, it’s fascinating to see that Norman Foster is taking full advantage of the one-to-one relationship between public figure and the public by openly showing us what he enjoys, treasures, and strives to achieve.
Seniority is infamously important in the field of architecture. Despite occasionally being on the butt end of wage jokes, the field can actually pay relatively well—assuming that you’ve been working for a couple of decades. Even Bjarke Ingels, the tech-savvy, video-producing, Netflix-documentary-starring provocateur and founder of the ultra-contemporary BIG isn’t a millennial; at 42 the Dane is a full nine years older than Mark Zuckerberg.
As a result of this, it's common to lead a rich and complex life before finding architectural fame, and many of the world’s most successful architects started their careers off in an entirely different field. If you haven't landed your dream job yet, you may find the following list of famous architects' first gigs reassuring.
"It's quite evident that you're prepared to abandon traditional ways of sitting," Bernard Keeffe exclaims as he collapses into a bright yellow beanbag in Norman Foster's home. "For years," he continues, "people have thought that if they sat down they would have to sit on a chair, but now you have demonstrated that this is not necessary!" In this lengthy 1971 interview with Lord Foster, drawn from the archives of Thames TV, Keeffe questions the practice's early hi-tech approach to architecture in the context of a landscape in which buildings were becoming "ever more complicated."
In all but the most optimistic architect's career, there will be moments you come across doubts and insecurities about our profession. It is in these moments where the wisdom of the greats who have come before us can help provoke the inspiration needed to face the challenges proposed by architecture and urbanism.
Needing an architectural pick-me-up? Check out some advice from Alejandro Aravena, Álvaro Siza, César Pelli, Francis Kére, Jeanne Gang, Norman Foster and Paulo Mendes da Rocha after the break.
Architecture, as both a profession and the built environment, currently finds itself at a crossroads in trying to adapt to a world in constant flux. Cities and its people face continuous socio-economic, political and environmental change on a daily basis, prompting a necessary rethink in the evolution of sustainable urbanization. With a focus on housing, society and cultural heritage, RIBA’s International Conference, Change in the City, aims to offer insight into the “New Urban Agenda” and how architects can play an interdisciplinary role in future urban development.
Speaking in an interview ahead of the conference, Norman Foster is a strong advocate for a careful consideration of what aspects of urban life need to be prioritized when designing cities of the future. For an increasingly global society, Foster stresses the need for architecture to surpass buildings and tackle its greatest obstacle – global warming, honing in on its roots and factors involved to create viable urban solutions.