Norman Foster: Decision maker

Last week we were once again back at the RIBA for yet another Dream Builders Q&A. This time however we were joined by the legend that is Norman Foster

After starting off with a few anecdotes about how he began his career, the questions quickly turned towards the Shanghai bank – his first major project.

Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank – 1986

Offering an in-depth insight into how he won the pitch, Foster went on to talk about his attitude towards decision making. In an attempt to explain how a solid client relationship in a progress-hungry environment will benefit the design process, he pitched his acclaimed Beijing airport (largest building in the world – four years start to finish) against Heathrow’s terminal 5 (20 years start to finish and quarter the size).

In the debate that ensued Foster discussed how complacency stifles progress. Emerging markets, such as China and the Middle East, are pushing the boundaries in architecture whereas the West is becoming more risk-averse. 

Beijing airport – 2008

In conclusion the evening ended, quite literally, with style. Having been asked whether there was ‘a trademark Foster design’ he quickly replied saying ‘his diamonds’ are there because it allows for 20% less steel and that in all his work the aesthetic of a building is always dictated by its needs – something we can relate to.

Overall a hugely inspirational interview that sparked some very transferable debates in all design areas.

All I need to do now is decide how to end this blog post? I think I’ll leave it there.