Norman Foster (architect)

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The Lord Foster of Thames Bank
Norman Foster dresden 061110.jpg
Personal information
Name The Lord Foster of Thames Bank
Nationality English
Birth date 1 June 1935 (age 77)
Birth place Stockport, Greater Manchester, England
Practice Foster + Partners
Buildings 30 St Mary Axe, London
Willis Faber and Dumas Headquarters,Ipswich
Wembley Stadium
Projects American Air Museum at the Imperial War Museum Duxford
Awards Stirling Prize, Pritzker Architecture Prize,Minerva Medal, Prince of Asturias Award

Norman Robert Foster, Baron Foster of Thames Bank, OM, FRIBA, FCSD, RDI (born 1 June 1935) is an English architect. His company has an international design practice. He is the United Kingdom’s biggest builder of landmark office buildings.[1] In 2009 Foster was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award in the Arts category.


Foster was born in Reddish, Stockport, England, to a working-class family. He did well at school and became interested in architecture. Foster was particularly interested in the works of Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Le Corbusier.

He left school at 16 and worked in the Manchester City Treasurer’s office. Next he joined the National Service in the Royal Air Force. After he was discharged, in 1956 Foster attended the University of Manchester’s School of Architecture and City Planning. He graduated in 1961. Later, Foster won the Henry Fellowship to the Yale School of Architecture, where he earned his Master’s degree Foster also met Richard Rogers at Yale. He then travelled in America for a year. He returned to the UK in 1963. Then he set up an architectural practice as Team 4 with Rogers and the sisters Georgie and Wendy Cheesman. Georgie (later Wolton) was the only one of the team that had passed her RIBA exams. This allowed them to set up in practice on their own. Team 4 quickly earned a reputation for high-tech industrial design.

Foster and Partners

After Team 4 broke up, in 1967 Foster and Wendy Cheesman started Foster Associates. This later became Foster and Partners. From 1968, Foster worked with American architect Richard Buckminster Fuller until Fuller died in 1983. They worked on several projects that became important in the development of an environmentally sensitive approach to design. This included the Samuel Beckett Theatre project.

The Willis Faber and Dumas Headquarters in Ipswich was one of Foster’s earliest commissions after foundingFoster Associates.

Foster + Partners’ first important building in the UK was the Willis Faber & Dumas headquarters in Ipswich, from 1974. The client was a family firm insurance company which wanted to restore a sense of community to the workplace. Foster created open-plan office floors long before open-plan became the standard. In a town that did not have a lot of public facilities, the roof gardens, 25m swimming pool and gymnasium are good benefits for the company’s 1,200 employees. The building is wrapped in a full-height glass facade. This wall follows the medieval street plan. The facade shifts fromopaque, reflective black to a glowing backlit transparency as the sun sets.

Present day

View of 30 St Mary Axe. The building serves as the Londonheadquarters for Swiss Re and is informally known as “The Gherkin”.

Today, Foster + Partners works with its engineers to use computer systems. They pay attention to basic physical laws such as convection. They have created efficient buildings like the Swiss Re London headquarters. The walls let in air for passive cooling and then let it out as it warms and rises.

In January 2007, The Sunday Times reported that Foster had called in Catalyst, a corporate finance house, to find buyers for Foster + Partners. Foster does not want to retire, but wants to sell his 80-90% holding in the company valued at £300M to £500M.

Foster is a member of the Board of Trustees for the architectural charity Article 25. They design, construct and manage safe, sustainable buildings in dangerous parts of the world. He has also been on the Board of Trustees of The Architecture Foundation. The reason for his wealth is he receives 15% of the building cost.


Foster was knighted in 1990 and appointed to the Order of Merit in 1997. In 1999, he was created a life peer, as Baron Foster of Thames Bank, of Reddish in the County of Greater Manchester. He is a Crossbencher.

He is the second British architect to win the Stirling Prize twice: the first for the American Air Museum at the Imperial War Museum Duxford in 1998, and the second for 30 St Mary Axe in 2004. Foster was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1999. He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers and winner of the Minerva Medal, the Society’s highest award. In Germany Lord Foster received the Order Pour le Mérite.

Most recently, in September 2007, Foster was awarded the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the largest architectural award in the world, for the University of Technology Petronas, in Malaysia.

It was announced in January 2008 that Foster was to be awarded an honorary degree from the Dundee School of Architecture at the University of Dundee. In 2009 Foster was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award in the category Arts.

Personal life

Foster married business partner Wendy Cheesman. She died in 1989, leaving him with four sons. He next married Indian-born Begum Sabiha Rumani Malik. Sabiha was married to Andrew Knightwhen she and Foster met. Knight was Chairman of News International. Foster and Sabiha divorced in 1998. Foster is now married to Elena Ochoa, Chairman of the Tate International Council, and founder of Ivory Press. He has five children and three grandchildren.

Foster flies his own private jet and helicopter between his homes in London, France, and Switzerland.

Selected projects

Foster has established an extremely prolific career in the span of four decades. The following are some of his major constructions:

Proposed or under construction

Torre Caja Madrid, in Madrid, (Spain).
  • Florence TAV Station, Florence, Italy (2003-2010)
  • Palmer Tompkinson Building, Longslade 2012
  • South Beach, Singapore, Singapore, 2012
  • APIIC Tower, Hyderabad, India (2007-2020)
  • Torre Caja Madrid, Madrid, Spain (2004-2008)
  • Black Sea Gardens, Byala, Bulgaria (2008)
  • Tower, Cork, Republic of Ireland, (2008-2011)
  • Culture and Leisure Centre, Ciudad del Motor de Aragón[1], Alcañiz, Spain (2007) (competition won)
  • Tivoli Hotel, Copenhagen, Denmark (2010) (competition won)
  • Museum of Aviation, Getafe, Spain (currently in design phase)
  • 200 Greenwich Street, Tower 2 of the planned reconstruction of the World Trade Center in New York City, United States (currently in design phase)
  • Reconstruction of New Holland Island, Saint Petersburg, Russia (ongoing)
  • Russia Tower, Moscow, Russia (2007 – 2011)
  • U2 Tower, Dublin, Ireland (2008-2011) (competition won)
  • Spinningfield Square, Manchester, UK (2005 – 2010)
  • Dallas Center for the Performing Arts, Dallas, United States (2009)
  • The Bow, Calgary, Canada (2007-2011)
  • Jameson House, Vancouver, Canada
  • The Troika, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (2004 – 2009)
  • Queen’s Dock, Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow, Scotland (2004 – 2007)
  • Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, Middlesex Guildhall, London, United Kingdom (2009)
  • Khan Shatyry in Astana, Kazakhstan.
  • Masdar City, Abu Dhabi (2007-2023)
  • New Yale School of Management campus, New Haven, CT (announced September 4, 2007)
  • Camp Nou stadium, Barcelona, Spain (announced 18 September 2007)[7]
  • Crystal Island, Moscow, Russia[8][9]
  • Zagreb Airport, Zagreb, Croatia[10]
  • Hermitage Plaza, Paris (La Défense), France (2010-2014)
  • Dubai Towers, Melbourne (TBD)


Photo of Metro Of Bilbao, Spain

  • 1970–1971, IBM Pilot Head Office, Cosham, Portsmouth, UK
  • 1971–1975, Willis Faber and Dumas Headquarters, Ipswich, UK
  • 1974–1978, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  • 1983, Renault Distribution Centre, Swindon, United Kingdom
  • 1979–1986, HSBC Main Building, Hong Kong
  • 1981-1991, Terminal building at London Stansted Airport, UK View on the map
  • 1992, Torre de Collserola, Barcelona, Spain
  • 1984-1993, Carré d’Art, Nîmes, France View on the map
  • 1993, Kings Norton Library, Cranfield University, UK
  • 1993, Lycée Albert Camus, Fréjus, France
  • 1994, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska
  • 1988–1995, Metro of Bilbao, Spain
  • 1995, Faculty of Law, Cambridge
  • 1995–1997, The Clyde Auditorium, part of the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre in Glasgow, Scotland
  • 1991–1997, Commerzbank Tower, Frankfurt, Germany
  • 1992–1998, Hong Kong International Airport, Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong
  • 1993–1998, Valencia Congress Centre, Valencia, Spain View on the map
  • 1999, Redevelopment of the Great Court of the British Museum, London, United Kingdom
  • 1999, Department of Economics, Manor Road Building, University of Oxford, UK
  • 1999, Reichstag Building restoration, Berlin, Germany
  • 2000, Greater London Authority Building (London City Hall), London, United Kingdom View on the map
  • 1996–2000, Millennium Bridge, London, United Kingdom View on the map
  • 2000, Center for Clinical Science Research, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
  • 2001, Expo MRT Station, Singapore
  • 2001, Al Faisaliyah Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • 2001, La Poterie metro station, Rennes, France
  • 2001, J Sainsbury headquarters, Holborn Circus, London
  • 1999–2001, Lionel Robbins Building renovation, British Library of Political and Economic Science, London School of Economics, London, United Kingdom
  • 2002, 8 Canada Square (HSBC Group Head Office), London
  • 1997–2003, Metropolitan Building in Warsaw
  • 2003, Clark Center, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
  • 2003, Universiti Teknologi Petronas main campus, Malaysia
  • 1997-2004, 30 St Mary Axe, Swiss Re London headquarters, London, United Kingdom View on the map
  • 2004, The Sage Gateshead, Gateshead, UK
  • 2004, McLaren Technology Centre, Woking, United Kingdom
  • 2004, Tanaka Business School, Imperial College London
  • 2004, The Millau Viaduct, near Millau, France
  • 2005, Western Årsta Bridge, Stockholm
  • 2005, 40 luxury apartments, St. Moritz, Switzerland
  • 2005, National Police Memorial, The Mall, London, United Kingdom
  • 2005, The Philological Library at the Free University of Berlin, Germany
  • 2005, Deutsche Bank Place, Sydney, Australia (the first Sir Norman Foster building in the Southern Hemisphere)
  • 2002-2006, Dresden Hauptbahnhof reconstruction, Dresden, Germany
  • 2006, Hearst Tower,[11] New York City, United States
  • 2006, The Leslie L. Dan Pharmacy Building[12] at the University of Toronto, Canada
  • 2006, Palace of Peace and Reconciliation[13], Astana, Kazakhstan
  • 2002-2007, Wembley Stadium, London, United Kingdom
  • 2004-2007, The Willis Building, City of London, United Kingdom
  • 2005–2007, Thomas Deacon Academy
  • 2004–2007, Kogod Courtyard, Center for American Art and Portraiture at the National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC
  • 2007, International Terminal, Beijing Capital International Airport, Beijing, China
  • 2006–2008, Lumiere residences, Sydney, Australia
  • 2006–2008, John Spoor Broome Library, California State University Channel Islands.
  • 2007–2008, New Elephant House, Copenhagen Zoo, Copenhagen, Denmark

Photo of John Spoor Broome Library

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