The world of architecture has professionals dedicated to creating wonders on their own or failing that, visionaries who create teams to take their work beyond the standard. Foster and Partners are one of those firms that stand out for a large number of jobs at the hands of different teams of professionals, being one of the most recognized worldwide, and the architect of highly relevant projects.
The British master architect, Sir Norman Foster, founded the firm. His modern style that follows the trend created during the twentieth century catapulted him to fame. Usually, we can found a job from the firm that mixes impeccably the use of steel with crystals, creating dream landscapes.
The firm began operating under the name of Foster Associates in 1967, and later it would be known as Foster and Partners in reference to the wide range of design works that they accept.
Foster’s architecture has focused on combining the pedestrian with nature, and for this has focused on the criterion of wide spaces illuminated with many permeable planes. Their buildings are always a challenge to progress, showing the capabilities that we have at the engineering level.
The British firm not only focuses on one type of construction. In fact, its fame and staff are so wide that they have been pioneers in works ranging from small furniture to hospitals, commercial premises, residences, urban planning, airports, schools, stadiums, and a myriad of jobs. Basically, everything you need from an expert architectural eye is an ideal job for Foster and Partners.
At present, globalization has allowed them to expand beyond London, having headquarters in practically the entire world, with completed works in six continents. The firm also has to its credit the not inconsiderable figure of 620 awards for excellence, and the victory in more than 100 design competitions.
To handle all this workload, Foster & Partners is divided into 6 cores, each directed by its own partners, so that they can distribute the work in specialized areas. In this way, we are guaranteed that the building we need is designed by people who only work for a specific area (very important when it comes to buildings such as hospitals).
Today, we will review some of their most important works, and who knows, you may have run into some of them in the street without realizing it (the guys at Apple love to hire them for their new venues).
The most important works designed by Foster and Partners
A sample of democracy – London City Hall
London City Hall is one of the most emblematic works of the city in the last 20 years. The work was completed in 2002, and its conception is based on the principles of democracy, so the architects decided to design a transparent building that would give that security to the inhabitants of being in front of a building without secrets.
They also gave a touch of modernism and accessibility with the oval design. Thanks to its intelligent design, between ventilation and natural light inputs, the building is able to save a lot of energy, using on average only a quarter of what a building with 15,000 employees requires.
A Smart design – 30 St Mary Ax, The Gherkin Building
For 15 years, The Gherkin has been a fundamental part of the horizon of the most important commercial district of London.
Its design solves multiple resource problems while allowing it to be large. Thanks to the oval shape, this is perfectly aerodynamic, so its 180 meters high hardly suffers deformations by the wind.
Additionally, its façade based on hexagonal and rhombic structures make it a building practically independent of artificial lighting.
Smart wind control – Bloomberg Headquarters, London
The control of ventilation is essential in architectural work. Not only does it prevent the building from suffering from strong wind currents, but it also naturally refreshes the internal spaces. Bloomberg Headquarters in London is an ingenious example of how to control this variable through engineering.
The building, property of the former Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, was completed in the year 2017, and presents a series of bronze fins on its facades that allow it to control at will the entry of the wind, as well as creating a very business style. However, not only does it stand out externally, since these two buildings have glass floors that connect the different levels with ramps.
The giant of Cupertino – Apple store, Union Square, San Francisco
As we mentioned previously, Apple is fascinated by the designs of Foster and Partners. One of the most emblematic for the apple is its store in Union Square, which, although it seems simple, is a sample of architecture in its entire splendor.
The first and most outstanding are its wide doors, which measure 6m x 12.8m on the south side and 6m x 8m on the north side. Needless to say, they reach the roof of the structure. This is basically a steel cube that serves as a framework for large windows at the edges, ideal for showing the world the latest products of the company. In addition, internally it is a totally open space, which gives a greater area of exposure.
A glass waterfall – Willis Faber and Dumas Headquarters, United Kingdom
This office building has an irregular façade of glass panels that hang from a profile on the roof. To keep them together, the edges have silicone and connectors at the corners.
These crystals have a special treatment that, during the day, reflects sunlight, so they have a black finish, making it impossible to see inwards. During the night, the internal lights are enough to see completed within the 3 levels of the building.
Additionally, it has a green roof that serves as a parking space, taking full advantage of the horizontal area where it is located.
Defying gravity – HSBC Building, Shanghai
This building owned by the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation is a mixture of traditional and modern architecture built in 1985. Its main characteristic is that it has no internal structure, being supported by the panels that enclose the building.
Another key feature, and already signed by Foster and Partners, is that the building has a constant natural light in all corners thanks to entering a large central hall where it is spread to all offices.
This building is largely influenced by Feng Shui, so its front facade is not overshadowed by any building, plus it has two large bronze lions that are believed to attract money.
Communicating people – Torre de Collserola, Barcelona
During the Olympic Games in Barcelona, the city required a better infrastructure for telecommunications. The Torre de Collserola was the solution to this problem. Inaugurated in 1992, it is the second largest communications tower in Spain, and the one in charge of communicating to the whole metropolitan area and the province.
This structure represented a great challenge due to its location on a mountain. The construction was by means of an innovative technique that mixed the concrete with the steel inside a cylinder of only 4.5 meters of diameter.
The 288.4 meters of height of the tower are not only dedicated to communications, in fact, it also has an observatory, receptions for events, among other business rooms.
Surviving in the desert with style – The Index, Dubai
This great skyscraper in Dubai is another example of the impressive architecture of the region. 328 meters high divided into 80 floors make this building an entire small city within Dubai.
Due to the inclemency of the Sun and the desert climate, the building was oriented in such a way that the large concrete structures protected the facades exposed to the sun with direct incidence both in the afternoon and in the morning, which keeps the interior cool throughout the day. Only the southern facade is exposed, and, however, curtains are used to minimize solar incidence.
The building division prepares you for all kinds of activities, with the first 4 levels of services, the levels from 5 to 29 of offices, and the levels from 31 to 80 of residential apartments (the last levels being extremely luxurious). Additionally, level 30 is a double height floor that separates the hotel zone from the residential area with different activities, such as swimming pools.
An ambitious expansion – Beijing Airport
Foster and Partners were responsible for the most ambitious expansion of one of the most important airports in the world in the Republic of China. On the occasion of the 2008 Olympic Games, this terminal was improved to create a more pleasant user experience.
The Beijing airport not only stands out for its cutting-edge technology but also for its peculiar design that improves the movement of both employees and users, making it an example of a functional system thanks to its architecture. And the achievement is not little considering that we are talking about 360,000 square meters of construction.
Vertigo Heights – Commerzbank Tower
Thanks to its antenna in the form of a needle, this tower reaches 300.1 meters in height, making it the second largest building in the entire European Union and the tallest tower in Frankfurt, Germany.
In total, the building has 56 floors and 259m of useful height in offices. It was the tallest building in Europe until the Triumph-Palace in Moscow was opened in 2003. At an architectural level, it keeps the signature of Foster and Partners thanks to its natural light entrance through a central atrium, as well as having 9 internal gardens at different heights to soften the environment.
The best in teaching – Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge
Cambridge Law School is one of the most prestigious law schools in the world. Qualified in third place by the QSWorld University Rankings and by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Foster and Partners had the honor of working in the construction of the so-called David Williams Building.
This was inaugurated in 1996, where it could already be seen how Foster sought to create widely illuminated spaces through the use of glass. However, this work had serious acoustic problems, since Foster did not consider how the sounds were amplified in the structure, which made it not very quiet to study. However, this was solved in 1999 with the installation of glazed acoustic screen.
A war story – Imperial War Museum Duxford
This museum of vehicles and military documents is the largest in England when it comes to Aviation museums. In its sheds, it counts with more than 200 vehicles that are divided between airplanes, artillery trucks, and even, small boats. It also has different storage areas for documents, films, among other military materials.
Sir Norman Foster was commissioned to design several of the exhibition hangars of the museum. Although nowadays it is still used for civil flights and air events.
A sample of futuristic transport – Canary Wharf, UK
Foster and Partners were responsible for creating one of the most important subway terminals in the United Kingdom.
The construction has 300 meters long, and it is used by up to 40 million passengers per year. To maintain the uninterrupted flow of people, the construction has 20 cores of escalators.
A home for the parliament – The Reichstag Building, Berlin, Germany
Foster and Partners were in charge of carrying out a reconstruction of this building that was in short supply until 1990, after the reunification of Germany. After the work was completed, the parliament went back to normal work inside the building.
Part of Foster’s ideas with this iconic classic construction was maintained thanks to the addition of a giant glass dome in the back of the building, which, to the architect’s interpretation, symbolizes the reunification of the country after the dark times.
This can be freely visited, being one of the most emblematic works of Foster for its symbolism in the reunification of Germany. Its importance is such that it is even one of the central images on the Foster and Partners website.
A way to save material – Hearst tower, New York
The structure based on triangles that overlap each other allowed this office building of 182 meters to save an approximate 20% structural steel. A solution that is a bit squarer than the one seen in the 30 ST Mary Ax tower, but that equally dazzles everyone who passes under it. In addition, in the lower part, the building has a more traditional architecture of the architectural movements of the 80s.
Preparing the businessman of tomorrow – Imperial College Business School
Another of the most important works of Foster and Partners is the business school of the imperial university. Not only in architecture is a wonder, but also is one of the few schools to have a triple accreditation, making it a dream for students.
Automotive Technology – McLaren Technology Centre
The McLaren group, manufacturers of some of the most powerful vehicles in the world, have a huge headquarters of 500,000 square meters in England, manufactured by Foster and Partners.
This headquarters has large glass walls where only a solid roof functions as a cover for the irregular shape of the buildings. In total, there are 4 buildings, of which 2 are currently used.
Another example of engineering and beauty – Millau Viaduct
France has one of the most ambitious cable-stayed bridges nowadays. The Millau Viaduct takes the prize to the highest bridge in the world with a total of 343 meters from the ground level of the lowest pillar.
The exaggerated construction has a length of 2,460 meters, and its purpose is to cross the Tarn River. To give it rigidity, the bridge is built on 7 concrete pillars. The work was designed by the engineer Michel Virlogeux and was later adapted visually by Lord Norman Foster.
The reconstruction of Calgary – The Bow, Alberta
This work in concave curve built in a glass with a structure based on diamonds is considered the point of reconstruction of the entire redevelopment of Downtown East Village of Calgary. The edification, 236 meters high, ranked one of the 10 best architecture projects in 2012 according to Azure magazine.
Music development – The Sage Gateshead
Another of the great works of the firm in England, The Sage Gateshead. This is a concert hall built in stainless steel and curved glass, where different musical works and classes are performed.
3 Business Levels – Willis Building
The Willis Building is a skyscraper located in London with 26 floors for offices. Its stepped design while maintaining a slight curvature, all this enclosed in a thin metal structure, make this building stand out as a whole work of art.
If you enjoyed reading this article about Foster and Partners, you should read these as well: