Foster Associates


Foster Associates
   One of Britain’s leading modern architects, often associated with high-tech, Foster studied at the University of Manchester (1956–61) and Yale University (1961–2), subsequently forming ‘Team 4’ in London in collaboration with his wife Wendy and Su and Richard Rogers. An early project was a house for Richard Rogers’ parents. Foster Associates was founded in London 1967, and includes eight partners in addition to Norman and Wendy Foster (Loren Butt, Chubby S.Chabra, Spencer de Gray, Roy Fleetwood, Birkin Haward, James Meller, Graham Philllips and Mark Robertson). It has become an immensely successful practice with an international profile. Significant works include the controversial Reliance Controls Factory, Swindon (1966–7), the passenger terminal and administration building of Fred Olsen Lines in London (1971), and the celebrated headquarters of the Willis Faber Dumas offices in Ipswich (1974– 5), whose curved glass facade reinforces the street boundaries and harmonizes with the urban environment. Two floors of office accommodation for 1,300 people are elevated and placed between amenity and support areas above and below, including a swimming pool and gymnasium on the ground floor and a restaurant pavilion set in the landscaped garden on the roof. Other important works include the Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts (1976–8) and Stansted Airport Terminal (1985– 91), with its dramatic roof structure surmounting the vast open space of the main building. Such great ‘neutral space envelopes’ capable of accommodating differentiated functions are a feature of Foster’s work. While being committed to the high-tech movement which celebrates the aesthetic of industrial production, Foster is also concerned with what he calls design ‘development’, evinced in the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (1979–85), described as the most expensive office building ever constructed. Here, all the main elements of the building, often prefabricated offsite, result from the close collaboration of architect and manufacturers ensuring high levels of craftsmanship and quality of detail. Stansted Airport Terminal witnesses a similar concern for detail, with the architect designing carpets, seating, check-out desks and retail outlets. More recent work includes a contribution to Stockley Park (1984) in Heathrow, Middlesex, a business park attracting international companies; the ITN Headquarters, London (1989); The Sackler Galleries, Royal Academy, London (1989–91); Riverside Offices and Apartments, London (1990), including Foster’s own apartment; and the Library at Cranfield University (1993).
   Further reading
    Sudjic, D. (1986) New Architecture: Foster, Rogers, Stirling, London: Royal Academy of Arts.
   HILARY GRAINGER

Encyclopedia of contemporary British culture . . 2014.

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