Norman Foster and his Most Iconic Projects

Sir Norman Foster's architecture stands out for perfectly balancing design, technology, and sustainability. With iconic buildings, he's managed to change not just a few cities, but also the way you look at architecture and technology together.
Norman Foster and his Most Iconic Projects

Last update: 19 August, 2020

Norman Foster, an architect born in Manchester, is one of the most famous representatives of modern architecture. You can find his designs, of a predominantly industrial style, around the world. They’re always interesting to look at.

A man of humble beginnings, this didn’t stop him from learning and going far in life. His mother, Lilian Smith, was a waitress, and his father, Robert Foster, owned a pawn shop. They were key in his development.

He studied Architecture and Town Planning at the University of Manchester. This prestigious university granted him the Henry Fellowship scholarship for a Master’s degree in Architecture at Yale University. This scholarship allowed him to travel and learn a new side of architecture.

When he came back to the United States, he joined Team 4, along with Rogers, Cheesman, and Woltoncon, with whom he developed his first projects. His time with Team 4 helped him win some fame with a few small projects. He then left and founded his studio – Sir Norman Foster & Partners.

Nowadays, he’s one of the most recognized architects around the world and builds iconic buildings in many cities. His buildings use technology as the main influence and use sustainability principles.

Architecture Norman Foster.

Norman Foster – main awards

Thanks to his work as an architect, Foster has been awarded the gold medal from the American Institute of Architecture. Also, he received the most important award in architecture – the Pritzker Award, in 1999.

He was also awarded the Premio Príncipe de Asturias de las Artes in 2010. Queen Elizabeth II, bestowed upon him the title of Sir and, later on, the title of Baron Foster of Thames Bank.

Here’s a selection of Sir Norman Foster’s most iconic projects.

Norman Foster – Hearst Tower, New York 2003-2006

This tower, located in New York City, has 46 floors and is almost 600 feet high. It was built over a building dating from 1928, of which only its façade remains.

This building is the first skyscraper built after 9/11. It also holds the title of being the first green skyscraper in New York. It used over 80% of recycled iron.

The outdoor look is the result of internal structural logic. This tower’s diamond design is the most characteristic aspect of its façade.


Swiss Tower in London, designed by Norman Foster.

Swiss Tower, London 2001-2004

This tower is in the heart of London, at 30 St. Mary Axe, and it houses the Swiss Reinsurance Company. As well as being an important reference point of London’s skyline it is the first green British skyscraper.

The building is located where the Baltic Exchange used to be, a company that sold boats. Sadly, the IRA bombed the old building in 1992.

Its shape is a result of each floor’s diameter. The tower has different diameters. It measures 185 ft at its widest area and 86 ft on the top floor.

These changes in width give it its characteristic bullet shape. In the words of Norman Foster, the shape “favors the wind’s flow around the exterior, lowering the pressure against the building…”.

Norman Foster – City Hall, London 1998-2002

This building, known as City Hall, houses London’s government offices and it’s one of the city’s new symbols. City Hall is a part of More, a large town planning project that’s transforming the Thames’ south bank, between London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

Its shape, like a deflated ball, is very interesting and it was built with iron and glass, using avant-garde technology. The shape is a response to move away from direct light from the south, and catch the indirect light of the north.

In short, this building is a formal hybrid designed to minimize the area that gets direct solar light. Its shape is built to save energy and, because of its transparency, it has low electricity consumption.

“As an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past for a future which is essentially unknown.”

-Sir Norman Foster-

Apple Park, designed by Norman Foster.

Apple Park, Cupertino 2017

This project, Apple Campus 2, built houses Apple’s new business in Cupertino, California. The project covers 26 hectares, with capacity for over 12,000 employees.

The project’s original idea came from Steve Jobs. This resulted in Norman Foster’s work, also known as The Spaceship. It’s a four-floor circular structure, that includes 80% vegetation, with native plants from Cupertino.

Inside, it holds four guest areas, an Apple Store and a public cafe, and a fitness center for Apple employees. Also, it has research and development facilities, a garden, a field, and a pond located inside the building’s center.

Lastly, if you’d like to know more about Norman Foster, look for a documentary called “How Much Does Your Building WeighMr. Foster?”. In this, you’ll learn about who he is as a person and the value of his projects.

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