Building takes great pride in being the first journal to celebrate British architecture’s life peers, Norman Foster and Richard Rogers, on the 40th anniversary of the break-up of Team 4 and the founding of their practices.
Last week we asked Rogers mischievous questions. This time, we delve into the life of Foster, a man whose buildings occupy rather more of the public eye than he does himself (pages 44-69). We have an interview with the great man, Gus Alexander highlights his business skills, we review his most recent UK building, and we round the celebration off with testimonials from 12 disciples of Foster and Rogers who became stars in their own right.
Yet it is not just other architects who are indebted to the peers. Both have followed the vectors of new technology, and both have entered into a two-way engagement with the industry at large, from engineers and QSs to contractors and specialists. For example, both use roofs for maximum impact, yet both deliver them in time and on budget. In Rogers’ case, the giant Terminal 5 roof at Heathrow is capped by a single span roof the size of a football pitch. Yet with the help of Arup, and Severfield-Rowen, its structure was delivered in six sections, each of which took a few hours to install. In Foster’s case, the vaulted roof over the Peterborough academy (page 56) was engineered by Spacedeck into a cheap, easily assembled system supported on simple steel arches. Yet the end product looks like the diagrid roofs beloved by architects and their critics.
As much as for their iconic architecture, it is Foster’s and Rogers’ team spirit in delivering it that is worth celebrating.
Martin Spring, architecture editor
Actually, the stadium isn’t that bad
How different would the Olympic stadium have looked had Foster designed it? We’ll never know of course, for it’s one project that slipped through his grasp. Instead we now have the HOK-designed “hula hoop”, “tambourine”, or whatever nickname you want to give it – and as you will note from our website there are far ruder descriptions available (page 32). This design has received a beating from those who were hoping for something with the wow of Foreign Office’s design. And no doubt, we’d all have preferred to have made some spectacular statement about our prowess, as the Chinese are doing in Beijing. But are we wrong to be disappointed? In a different mood, many would admit that it’s better to have a pragmatic solution than a majestic white elephant.
Sadly even a temporary stadium doesn’t come cheap – it has to be bought in a sellers’ market, must comply with myriad regulations, and has to include a price for dismantling it (at least we hope so!). But regardless of price, the world will judge the Games on their spectacle. Hard as it may be to accept, a stadium is only one element in achieving that, and this design ought to be fit for purpose.
Denise Chevin, editor