Foster Introduces Undersung Pioneers to the Public

Energized by a love of “anonymous architecture” – and unfazed by the New York Public Library’s recent decision to return his firm’s redesign of the 42nd Street main library to the drawing board – Norman Foster, Hon. FAIA (also known, since his elevation to the peerage in 1999, as Lord Foster of Thames Bank), gave an overflow audience a persuasive manifesto in the guise of a set of personal recollections. His discussion combined an homage to the structural-tile wizards Rafael Guastavino Sr. and Jr. – treasured among architects, particularly those familiar with the scholarship of MIT’s self-described “Guastafarian” John Ochsendorf, but largely unknown outside this community – with a broader salute to some of his design heroes. These often-under-recognized figures in architecture, engineering, and product design have inspired Foster’s work, from his working-class boyhood in Manchester, before he was even aware the profession of architecture existed, to his current position among its globally recognized leaders. Together with Foster + Partners engineer Roger Ridsdill Smith, who elaborated on the remarkably energy- and materially-efficient properties of shells and related double-curved forms, Foster made a convincing case for the combined functionality and beauty of geometries that “do more with less.” Continue reading “Foster Introduces Undersung Pioneers to the Public”