Norman Robert Foster was born on June 1, 1935, in Manchester, England.  The British architect is known for his sleek modern buildings that are made of steel and glass. His philosophy always guides a belief that the quality of our surroundings. Moreover, it always has a direct influence on the quality of our lives, workplace, and public realm. There are specific design measures that we see in his designs. They are strength on the mass of the building, curved lines, open plans, use of natural light, distinguished building materials, detailing, and flexible space. Well, he also gives attention to the conservation aspects of the design. In addition, they include green power, indoor air quality, water conservation, and renewable building materials. 

Norman Foster
Ar. Norman Foster

Education and career of Norman Foster

Norman Foster was trained at the University of Manchester during 1956–61 in England. He also pursued his studies at Yale University from 1961 to 1962 in New Haven, Connecticut. In the beginning, during 1963, he worked in partnership with Richard and Su Rogers and his wife, Wendy Foster, in a firm called Team 4. In 1967 Foster established his own firm called Foster Associates (later Foster + Partners). His earliest works always explored the idea of a technologically advanced “shed,”. This means a structure surrounded by a lightweight shell or envelope.

Philosophy of Norman Foster

  • The structure that holds it up.
  • The services that allow it to work.
  • The ecology of the building.
  • The materials and character of spaces
  • The quality of surrounding has a direct influence on the quality of the users lives.
  • He believes that architecture is generated by the needs of people, both material and spiritual.
  • The process of reinvention distinguishes all of his work.
  • The relationship of the building to the sklyine or streetscape.

Awards and recognition of Norman Foster

In 1994, Foster has received the AIA Gold medal. He was knighted in 1990 and was made a life peer in 1999 as Lord Baron Foster of Thames Bank. In 1999, he won the Pritzker Architecture Award. In the current scenario, his office spreads all over the globe in London, Berlin, and Singapore. Also, overall there are over 500 employees. He is the second British architect to have won the Sterling prize twice. Above all, Foster has received numerous awards like the Prince of Asturias awards, the Aga Khan award. He is a fellow member of the Chartered Society of Designers. 

Also read: Architecture of Auroville: Top 10 places for architects

Projects done by Norman Foster

1.Apple Park, California by Norman Foster

A 175-acre corporate campus. It’s a 2.8 million-square-foot main building, or “spaceship,” which considers being one of the most energy-efficient buildings on earth. Also, the campus and nearby visitor center opened in 2017 houses over 12,000 employees. The building is called ‘the spaceship’ because of the scale of the circular building, it measures 1 mile in circumference, with a diameter of 461 m (1,512 ft).   The design had interesting elements and they are: 

  • Over 2.8 million sq. ft. of office space 
  • 17 megawatts of rooftop solar  
  • It has separate on-site R&D facilities 
  • A 100,000 sq. ft. dedicated to fitness center 
  • An Underground 1000-seat Steve Jobs Theater 
  • It has a Public Visitor Center featuring Augmented Reality experience for the users  
  • The campus runs on 100% renewable energy 

The site comprises a Wellness Center, a hilltop theatre, a 755 ft entrance tunnel, and vast 4-story glass doors that open the large café The Ring to the landscape. The site is completely in power by renewable energy. It has solar panels installed on the roof capable of generating 17 megawatts of power. Rather than using air conditioning, 4,300 hollow concrete slabs act as the floors, ceilings, and HVAC system, funneling cool and warm air through the offices, in effect making it a ‘breathing’ building. 

Apple Park by Norman Foster

2.Reichstag building, Germany 

The Reichstag building is a historical edifice construct to house the Reichstag parliament of the German empire. Foster won an international competition for the project, and then made it successfully transformed the building in a way that convincingly fuses tradition and modernity. The design has exposed large parts of the building’s historic fabric and gave it a high degree of transparency and lightness. The signature glass-and-steel dome recalls the historical original, but, at 23 meters high, is considerably lower than Wallot’s dome. 

 Inside, spiral ramps offset by 180 degrees wind their way up in a double helix to a viewing platform that offers a panoramic view of the city. Moreover, the parliamentary building has become a Berlin landmark that attracts about one million visitors every year. Skylights at the base of the cupola open into the parliamentary debating chamber directly below, allowing natural light in by way of an inverted cone of mirrored panels. This blocks direct sunlight which would cause solar gain and glare, and enables natural ventilation, exhausting hot air through the top of the cupola. 

Norman Foster
Reichstag building, Germany

3.Hearst Tower, Manhattan 

The 46-story structure was designed by renowned architect Norman Foster. It was opened in 2006, rises nearly 600 feet above its landmark six-story base, the International Magazine Building. It was originally built by William Randolph Hearst in 1928. The exterior skin of the Hearst Tower has glass and steel with a diagrid design, which makes for a modern look to it. Also, from top to bottom the Tower has an emphasis on modern technology and sustainable design. Later, the six-story headquarters building was commissioned by its founder, William Randolph Hearst. Also, awarded to the architect Joseph Urban. The building was complete in 1928. 

  • The diagrid frames contain less than 20% of amount of steel and each triangle in the diagrid is 4 stories tall (54 feet). 
  • The daylight censors in the control lighting and energy use. 
  • 95% of offices get day lighting and 80% has outdoor views. 
  • The building has over one mile of glass office fronts. 
  • Nine-story atrium lobby with a six-story fresco, river lines and three-story glass water feature icefall. 
Hearst Tower, Manhattan

Also read: Architectural heritage of Jaisalmer:10 places for architects

4.30 St. Mary Axe, United Kingdom 

St Mary Axe is a small street near Bishopsgate in the Square Mile. It’s famous as the home of the Gherkin skyscraper which is officially called 30 St Mary Axe. The street takes its name from the church of St Mary Axe, which stood just south of the Gherkin site. The design is flexible and is environmentally sound office space in London. Also, the building has a cigar-shaped profile that responds to the specific demands of the small site. It’s the second-highest building and resides in the heart of the city. Each floor is circular and compromises an outer ring with equally spaced radial beams. 

  • Building type – commercial high-rise 
  • Floors – 40 floors 
  • Height – 179.8 meters 
  • Estimated actual area – 500,000 sq ft 
  •  Completion date – September 2003 

The building is situated on a site of 1.4 acres. 35km of steel and 24,000 sqm of glass were used for the exterior of the building which is equivalent to 5 football fields. The tower’s exterior cladding consists of roughly 5500 flat triangular, diamond-shaped glass panels.

Norman Foster
30 St. Mary Axe, United Kingdom

5.Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center, Kazakhstan 

Inside the huge structure of Khan Shatyr are a number of entertainment options, such as a park, a boating river, a minigolf course, a shopping center, and even an indoor beach resort. 

  • Construction – 2006 
  • Completion – 2010 
  • Area – 100,000m² 
  • Height – 150m 
  • Client – Sembol Construction 
  • Collaborating Architect – Linea Tusavul Architecture, Gultekin Architecture 
  • Structural Engineer – Buro Happold 
  • Landscape Architect – Charles Funke Associates 
  • Lighting Engineer – Claude Engle 

The big tent creates a strong iconic form of the skyline, it’s a critical consideration for such an important building in the capital city. Therefore, the structure has a 20m high sloped concrete base with 4.2m long  

 Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center, Kazakhstan

6.McLaren Technology Centre, England 

  • Area – 63,000m² 
  • Capacity – 1,000 
  • Client – McLaren Group 
  • Completion – 2004 
  • Quantity Surveyor – Davis Langdon 
  • Environmental Engineer – Schmidt Reuter Partner 
  • Landscape Architect – Terence O’Rourke 
  • Lighting Engineer – Claude Engle 
  • Structural Engineer – Arup 

McLaren is the largest employer in Woking, providing over 1,000 jobs to the area. The design maximizes the daylight penetration through a continuous curved glazed façade, 7m cantilevered overhung, and skylights in the office spaces. Meanwhile, the heating, cooling, and electric system of the building are taken care of by the two gas-powered trigeneration units. Also, elevations on the north, south, and east of the building are due to the earth for thermal buffer. Above all, recycled materials were used to decrease the number of materials used and construction waste generated. Therefore, rainwater captures onsite and fed into the lake. This carefully caters to the cooling system of the building. 

Norman Foster
McLaren Technology Centre, England

7.Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, United Kingdom 

  • Area – 6,186m² 
  • Capacity – 50 
  • Client – University of East Anglia 
  • Structural Engineer – Anthony Hunt Associates 
  • Quantity Surveyor – Hanscomb Partnership 
  • Landscape Architect – Lanning Roper 
  • Lighting Engineer – Claude Engle 
  • Completion – 1978 

Sainsbury Centre was built to keep the collection of Robert and Lisa Sainsbury at the University of East Anglia in Norfolk. It was also a design to display Sainbury’s large collection of art. This was a gift to the University of East Anglia as well as to house facilities for the Scholl of Fine Arts. 

The building is 135 meters long with a simple lattice steel structure with both the ends of it has glazing. Also, the design focuses on a series of free-flowing spaces that has a single, elongated hangar-like structure.

The facilities of the School of Fine Arts are on the northern side of the building. However, each line of office units toppers with a Mezzanine. It also includes the senior common room and the open reading room. The building has a double skinned supported by lattice tubular steel structure. Also, between the gap lay the building’s heating and ventilation system. In conclusion, the structure was made of prefabricated tubal steel elements. 

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, United Kingdom

8.Commerzbank Tower, Germany 

  • Area – 120,736m² 
  • Height – 298m 
  • Capacity – 2,400 
  • Client – Commerzbank AG 
  • Structural Engineer – Arup, Krebs & Kiefer 
  • Quantity Surveyor – Davis Langdon 
  • Environmental Engineer – Roger Preston & Partners, RP&K Sozietat GmbH, Petterson & Ahrens 
  • Landscape Architect – Sommerland & Partners 
  • Lighting Engineer – Lichtdesign 
  • Completion – 1997

It was the first ecological office tower with a sustainable approach in its design. Hence, the building design responds to prevailing winds and solar orientation. This is to ensure optimum ventilation and daylight penetration. In addition, the building naturally ventilates for 60% of the year. The design also caters to sky gardens which reduce 50% of energy consumption. The triangular shape and central atrium assisted in the creation of a zone of negative pressure. This also drives natural ventilation through the building. The central infill site location of the project. It is also key to its connectivity and access as it is close to public transport links.  

Commerzbank Tower, Germany

9.The Bund Finance Centre, China 

  • Area – 426,073m² 
  • Height – 180m 
  • Capacity – 20,000 
  • Client – Shanghai Zendai Bund Int’l Finance Center Real Estate Co. Ltd 
  • Collaborating Architect – ECADI 
  • Structural Engineer – ECADI 
  • Environmental Engineer – ECADI 
  • Landscape Architect – Martha Schwartz Partners 
  • Lighting Engineer – BPI 
  • Completion – 2017

It is a mixed-use development close to the Shangai waterfront. 15,000 sq meters PVD coated stainless steel in Rose Gold Vibration finish exterior cladding were supplied for this project. Moreover, the project covers 4000 sq meters with its design based on Chinese theatres which have open stages. Therefore, the building has a multilevel design and it encircles by a moving veil, three layers deep. Also, the moving veil of Rose Gold PVD stainless steel. It moves according to the activities taking place and reveals the balcony stage and views across to Pudong. The design has a dramatic and imaginative style of façade. PVD stainless steel in Rose Gold Vibration is for door reveals and a wide-format glazing bar. It also reflects the light at the entrance doorway. 

The Bund Finance Centre, China

10.Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, Kazakhstan

  • Area – 35,000m² 
  • Client – Sembol Construction 
  • Collaborating Architect – Tabanlioglu Architecture & Consulting 
  • Structural Engineer – Buro Happold, Arce 
  • Environmental Engineer – GN Engineering, HB Technik 
  • Landscape Architect – DS Mimarlik 
  • Lighting Engineer – Studio Dinnebier 
  • Completion – 2006 

It is a 62-meter high building. It was specially constructed to host the congress leaders of the world and traditional religions. The structure is made of 5 stories of triangles. Although, the lower three stories of the pyramid are cladded with pale granite. Also, the upper two rows of triangles are clad in 9700 square feet of stained glass. However, the structure is made up of steel and concrete for the lower stories. In addition, the pyramid has a large opera hall which is capable of seating 1302 spectators. The hall consists of 19 dressing rooms. Here different performances, concerts, and seminars take place. Also, the main staircase leads to the largest atrium.  

Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, Kazakhstan

Also read: The architectural heritage of Bhopal – Top 10 places for architects

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