Sir Norman Foster’s Greatest Triumphs
Norman Foster is one of the world’s best known living architects and has designed many iconic buildings throughout his career. Born in 1935, he grew up in the city of Manchester in the north-west of England. As a child he would develop a fascination with the urban environment and would go on to study at the University of Manchester’s School of Architecture. Such was his ability and keen eye for design, he would then win the Henry Fellowship, a scholarship that enabled him to earn a masters at the Yale School of Architecture in the United States.
After returning to England, he set up Team 4, an architectural firm that would go on to become Foster + Partners, his famous company that he is now chairman of. His impact in the field of architecture has been recognised on many ways, including being knighted in 1990 and becoming a peer in 1999 (with the full title of Baron Foster of Thames Bank, Of Reddish in the County of Greater Manchester). He has won the Stirling Prize twice and been awarded with numerous honorary doctorates.
Here we take a look at some of his best pieces of work:
Willis Faber and Dumas Headquarters – Ipswich, England
One of Foster’s earliest big commissions was this office building for a client from the insurance industry. This three storey open plan office can house 1,300 workers and is a stunning example of ‘high tech’ architecture. The dark smoked glass reflects the surrounding area back to the viewer whilst a rooftop garden offers a moment of tranquility for people working in the building. In 1991 it became the youngest building to be given listed status in the U.K.
HSBC Main Building – Hong Kong
The HSBC Main Building is occupied by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, a subsidiary of the global bank HSBC. It is just under 180 metres tall and has forty-four storeys. At the time of its opening in November 1985, it was the most expensive building in the world. Its unusual design revolutionised office design with escalators being the main form of transport rather than elevators. The lack of an internal supporting structure allows for more usable space and it’s numerous windows and carefully placed mirrors ensure that much of the lighting comes directly from natural sunlight.
Reichstag dome – Berlin, Germany
Source: Rebecca Kennison
The Reichstag building originally opened in 1894 but fell into disrepair following World War Two as both East and West Germany housed their respective parliaments elsewhere. Following unification Foster was tasked with renovating the building and eventually the Bundestag would meet there for the first time in 1999. It is now the second most popular tourist attraction in Germany, largely thanks to the dome at the top of the Reichstag which offers panoramic views across the city. Two spirals enable visitors to walk to the top of the dome and look down on the debating politics. This symbolises how the public are above the government. The original dome was destroyed in the 1933 Reichstag fire, an event blamed on local communists during the Nazis rise to power.
McLaren Technology Centre – Woking, England
The building is headquarters of the McLaren Group, the collective of companies mainly focused on the McLaren Formula One team and the development of the new McLaren P1 road car. The 500,000 square metre site features a large semi-circular building and numerous artificial lakes. This water is pumped through multiple heat exchanged to cool the building in a more environmentally friendly manner. Built at a cost of £300 million and opened in 2004, the site consolidates McLaren’s various activities and houses many development facilities including a 145 metre long wind tunnel.
Millau Viaduct – Millau, France
Source: Stefan Krause
This cable-stayed road bridge is the highest in the world with one of its seven masts reaching an incredible 343 metres high. The viaduct forms part of the Paris-Montpellier route with the bridge spanning the valley of the Tarn river, near the small southern town of Millau. The dual-carriageway was commissioned due the summer traffic that caused chaos in the town as people headed south to the French Mediterranean coast and Spain. Built at a cost of €400 million it opened in December 2004 after a three year construction period. It became the tallest structure in France, surpassing the Eiffel Tower.