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Sir Norman Foster

Peter Eisenman

Dustin Taljaard
Sir Norman Foster

Foster’s architectural career spans more than thirty years. He has designed structures in
Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, Barcelona and Omaha. Many of his designs have been
heralded as “groundbreaking” or “landmark,” as Foster constantly strives to stay ahead of
architectural trends. Foster’s design style, which he calls “high-tech,” not only stems
from his background and love of intricate machinery, but also emanates from the
influence of his teachers, who taught him to think at the edge of the modern technological
Norman Foster was born in Manchester, England in 1939. Foster’s home life was stable,
albeit humble. Norman was neither an exceptional nor a challenged student, doing well
but not passing all of his subjects in the general Certificate Examination. Foster believes
that he did not think of himself as bright. He however did show, however, a great interest
for model construction sets and motors. This fascination with working machines and the
details of assembling models continues to show itself in his current fascination with
airplanes and gliders.

During the last year of grammar school, Foster nurtured a growing interest in the public
library. Here, Foster discovered the philosophy of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. In further
browsing, Foster happened upon two influential books, Le Corbusier’s Towards a New
Architecture and Henry Russell Hitchcock’s In the Nature of Materials. These books
were powerful for Foster and as his first exposures to architecture, shaped the method by
which Foster perceived materials and design.

Foster eventually made his way to Manchester University in 1957 where he studied
architecture as an undergraduate for four years. At the end of these studies, Foster
received a Henry Fellowship to continue his architectural studies in the United States at
Yale. In graduate work, Foster would study under Rudolph and notables like Phillip
Johnson and Vincent Sully. Foster would later become close friends with another British
student, Richard Rogers.

Norman’s friendships paid off as he traveled back to London to create a partnership

called Team 4—one of the partners was Richard Rogers. In this group there was only one
certified architect: Georgie Wolton.
The British Museum
The British Museum in London central is a restoration and expansion of an existing
building. Using a fusion of high-tech engineering and economy of form to achieve a new
dynamic public space, results in a modern version of and Italian plaza. This plaza in turn
connects all the surrounding galleys of the museum.

The courtyard was originally a garden, then soon after completion the addition of a round
reading room resulted in a chaotic assembly of wasted space and smaller out buildings.
The need for additional space was a great concern for the museum. Work on the design
began in 1994 and was completed in 2000
Foster used unique solution of covering the space to simplify the needs of his client. The
area that was needed to be covered was not uniform and the reading room was not in the
center of the courtyard. To solve this, a steel frame of triangulated double glazed panels
was designed to create a dome.

The design of this project was at three levels; first he addressed the urban issue by
sinking the galleries and lecture hall below floor level. This allowed the space to become
freed of the need to house displays. In addition to this, the floor of the courtyard was
raised to that of the museum so it could be enjoyed as a public portal.

Secondly there was damage to the south entrance during WWII. For the continual
aesthetic around the courtyard this needed to be rebuilt. A contemporized design was
used to achieve this. However the issue of which stone to use for the renovation proved to
be a more troublesome design specification.

Thirdly, the eccentrically place reading room meant that the entire glass dome had to be
engineered as not one of the triangular section are identical. This resulted in a unique
geometry that creates multiple optical effects. The dome is also designed with a careful
consideration to the amount of energy needed to control the environment
The complete project is an example of Fosters mature style by making a hugely complex
project look simple to the point of inevitability. The creation of a positive space out of a
negative space and maximizing the available floor area has accomplished a feat of
architectural genius.

Material Selection
Glass: double glazed engineered units were used on top of a steel lattice. Solar heat gain
was reduced with the use of reflective fritting technology. This achieved 75% reduction
of solar heat gain by covering only 56% of total surface.

Structure: throughout the courtyard no columns were used, this was achieved by
supporting the metal lattice on hidden columns on both the reading room as well as the
original masonry load bearing walls.

Cladding: the vertical walls of the reading room were cladded with sand stone which in
turn hid the down pipes and ventilation shafts. The same sand stone units were used on
the floor for visual continuity.

Steel lattice: toughen steel was used due to its ability to absorb high stresses as well as its
slender visual appearance. After coating the steel can endure weathering for prolonged
periods with little maintenance.
30 St Mary axe

Officially known as 30 St. Mary Axe, and mocked as the "gherkin." Although its height
is far less than other London skyscrapers, its prominent location, behind the Tower of
London makes it one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city. With each floor
offset from the one below by five degrees and diamond shaped glazing that makes the
building appears to spiral. Even though the building appears round, the glass facade is
actually all made of flat panels. The only curved piece of glass is the lens that tops the
The cylindrical shape is tapered at both top
and bottom as was necessary for high wind
loads experienced on the building. The
footprint of the building on the site is less than
its maximum circumference and results in a
greater public space on ground level. Due to
its shape the building appears more slender
than what it truly is.

The floor plan of the main office spaces,

although in a cylindrical envelope, is divided
by 6 triangular spaces between rectilinear
floored areas. These floors in turn rotate by 5
degrees from the floor below, creating spiral
light wells. These light wells reduce the
need for artificial lighting in the workspace.
Duly these voids allow for the rotation of air
in the work space by natural ventilation, again
reducing the cost of artificial ventilation. All
of the available floor space is column free
Foster has created a humanizing work space where
employees are democratized with the they
communicate within the working realm

On the sixth floor Foster created an atria which is

commonly referred to as the ‘Sky garden’. This garden
within the building is used as a natural air filter and
provides fresh air to the building.

Foster’s Design Ideals

I believe that Foster’s design technique, while manifested differently at each site, can be
summarized and concentrated in the form of basic principles.

High-tech: Foster believes that in designing his buildings, the most technologically
advanced solution must be considered. He believes that in using high-tech equipment and
pushing the edge of structural engineering, he is able to push the edge of architectural
designing. Using high-tech equipment allows Foster to break through usual paradigms of
building and find solutions, such as pushing structural members to the edge of
skyscrapers. Foster also believes that high-tech buildings are more flexible and radical,
and thus more distinctive. A high-tech building, according to Foster, is also energy
efficient. Foster believes that paying attention to the ecology of a building is highly
important, for technology affords the architect methods by which to design a building
more ecologically efficient.

Flexibility: Foster believes that it is important to eliminate divisions in buildings. If

architectural divisions are eliminated, Foster argues, that internal divisions will also be
eliminated. Foster believes that flexibility is essential to a building, as the myriad roles of
it’s life. In the commercial world, walls separate employees and discourage
communication; eliminating walls eliminates that separation. In residential buildings,
flexibility allows the resident to choose his own living style, instead of having that style
dictated by the building. A building that is not flexible, Foster believes, is an obsolete
building. In designing buildings for flexibility, Foster places them in a design tradition
that reaches back to Albert Kahn. Foster took Kahn’s approach and applied it to different
building types.

Light: Foster’s fixation on the element of light is obvious. Foster believes that through
the harnessing and collection of light, individuals living in the modern world relate to
nature. The design of each of Foster’s buildings takes into consideration light and its
effects on the structure. Most of his commercial buildings have a central atrium that
draws light to the core of the building. Foster believes that light has a healing function,
one that keeps individuals sane in a busy, modern world. In each building, Foster deals
with light by a different and innovative method, trying to understand the ways in which
light affects the building and the individual. In looking at his previous structures, Foster
approaches the element of light by a different method in each building.

Norman Foster is often described as “the most envied architect in the world.” Foster
certainly deserves this honor, given his long career and the acclaim that many of his
buildings have received. He often ignores the usual trends and traditional methods of
architecture and envisions new solutions to design challenges. I believe that Foster has
cultivated this radical nature in his architectural upbringing, starting with his informal
education of Le Corbusier and continuing through with his graduate education at Yale
under Paul Rudolph and Phillip Johnson.In the latter half of the twentieth century,
Norman Foster has designed buildings which are thoroughly modern and envisioned new
paradigms for architectural design. With his innovative designs and radical ideas,
Norman Foster has indelibly stamped his image onto the milieu of modern architecture.
Peter Eisenman

Born on the 11 of August 1932 in Newark, New Jersey. Eisenman is an American
architect who is often in the spotlight for his controversial views. Educated and
associated with some of the most prolific tertiary institutions in America, he is an active
teacher of his own theories, while running a practice involved in some of the most
notable contemporary projects. Eisenman's identifiable fragmented forms are the
cornerstone of the deconstructivists architectural movement.
As a child Eisenman attended Columbia High School located in Maplewood, New Jersey.
He discovered architecture as an undergraduate at Cornell University where he received a
Bachelor of Architecture Degree. He went on to complete his Master of Architecture
Degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and
Preservation. Furthermore he completed his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University
of Cambridge. Later in 2007 he received an honorary degree from Syracuse University
School of Architecture. Eisenman currently teaches theory seminars and an advanced
design studios at the Yale School of Architecture.

Eisenman first rose to prominence as a member of the New York Five (Eisenman,
Charles Gwathmey, John Hejduk, Richard Meier, and Michael Graves). These architects'
worked at a time that was often considered to be a reworking of the ideas of Le
Corbusier. Subsequently, the five architects each developed unique styles and ideologies
with Eisenman becoming more affiliated with the Deconstructivists movement.

He always had strong cultural relationships with European intellectuals like his mentor
Colin Rowe and the Italian historian Manfredo Tafuri. Furthermore, the work of
philosopher Jacques Derrida , who was a close friend, had a key influence in his
House VI

The Frank Residence, is a significant building designed by Peter Eisenman, completed in

1975. His second built work, the getaway house in Cornwall, Connecticut has become
famous for both its revolutionary definition of a house as much as for the physical
problems of design and difficulty of use. At the time of construction, the architect was
known almost exclusively as a theorist, with a highly formalist approach to architecture
which he calls "post-functionalism." Rather than form following function, the design
emerged from a conceptual framework.
This house is constructed using
primarily a post and beam system,
with box beams and large dimension
timbers which forms the major
elements of the structural system.
Many of the forms that appear
structural are actually included to
reinforce the concepts behind the
design. It was not Eisenman's intent to
convey the actual structure, but
expose the system to define a module,
which is augmented by additional
space defining forms.

Eisenman's limited construction

experience meant that the building
was poorly detailed. The construction
took 3 years to build, and went over
budget, and finally had to be
reconstructed in 1987, leaving only
the basic structure original.

The building is meant to be a "record of design process," where the structure that results
is the methodical manipulation of a grid. As a start, Eisenman created a form from the
intersection of four planes, subsequently manipulating the structures again and again,
until coherent spaces began to emerge. In this way, the fragmented slabs and columns
don’t use a traditional purpose. The envelope and structure of the building are changed
elements of the original four slabs with added modifications. The purely conceptual
design meant that the architecture is strictly plastic, bearing no relationship to
construction techniques or purely ornamental form.

Consequently, the use of the building was intentionally ignored - not fought against.
Eisenman grudgingly permitted a handful of compromises, such as a bathroom, but the
staircase lacks a handrail, there is a column abutting the kitchen table, and a glass strip
originally divided the bedroom.
Material Selection
Due to the houses location in an area which experiences severe winters, the structural
system begins with the poured concrete foundation walls and footings several feet below
grade. A double mud sill is secured to the tops of the foundation walls with anchor bolts
embedded in the concrete. This continuous sill forms the basis of the connections
between the post and beam system and the more traditional platform style framing
supplementing it.

The columns rest on the sill and the rim joists secure them to the rest of the framing. As
the organization of the house is based on a modular system, many of the openings formed
by the posts and beams are in filled with stud walls. Together with the wall sheathing, the
framing acts as a shear wall, giving the structure lateral stability. Because there are
numerous openings and windows that occupy the entire module of a post and beam unit,
the distribution of the shear walls throughout the structure is essential.

Certain portions of the house are cantilevered out from the outer planes of the exterior
and present special structural problems to be considered. Here, iron diagonal members
function in tension to support the cantilevers which are framed as a part of the platform
system. The same iron diagonals can be found in walls that are too thin to accommodate
stud framing to act as a shear wall. In walls where a "slit" window is located, diagonal
bracing takes up the spaces on each side of the window. Some walls of the house are
located outside of the rim joists and corresponding foundation walls. These are supported
by steel angle brackets bolted to the rim joists forming their own platform for the wall to
sit on. Plywood sheathing covers the exterior of the house, continued around the posts
and beams in a gesture that allows some of the structural method to be seen.
Many critics considered House VI Eisenman's most important work. It certainly
generated considerable dialogue within the architecture community among architects,
critics and historians. Critics have noted Eisenman's attempt to marry linguistic theory to
design; his interest the theory of syntax and transformational grammar is particularly
evident in the series of "transformational" axonometric drawings he made of House VI
Columbus Convention Center

The Columbus Convention Center is a convention center located in downtown Columbus,
Ohio, along the east side of High Street. The convention center was designed by Peter
Eisenman, constructed in 1993, and expanded in 1999. The 158,000 m2 facility includes
39,600 m2 of exhibit space, two ballrooms, and 61 meeting rooms.
While the Columbus Convention Center is considered an outlandish design too many, the
true plan developed by Eisenman was limited by money. Because of this, the original
materials and finishes desired were cheapened to fit within the budget of the project.
What resulted was a series of interesting geometries with little architectural development.

In an attempt to tame the large volume, Eisenman created a series of separate pavilions
on the High Street facade, predictably canted at odd angles. These pavilions were
intended to echo the rhythm of the brick facades on the opposite side of the street. The
metallic colors originally proposed for the pavilions would have lent greater definition,
but the pavilions are nonetheless blank.

These pavilions initiate long, curving volumes which extend back to the truck loading
docks along the rear. These volumes were designed to resemble trains in a train yard from
overhead. Along the street facade these volumes coincide with meeting rooms, the grand
ballroom, and eating facilities. In the main exhibition space, however, they simply run
above the supporting trusses without regard to the structural or spatial grid below.
The general plan of the
convention center is quite
simple and functional. A
major circulation spine runs
from the parking lot through
the complex to a pedestrian
bridge which crosses a series
of railroad tracks leading to
the Hyatt Regency and
shopping areas beyond. Most
of the meeting rooms and
offices are located on the
High Street side of the spine,
while the opposite side is
dominated by the gargantuan
exhibit area. This spine
extends up to the roof level,
with skylights bringing
natural light directly into the
interior corridor. Balconies
overlooking the space from
the meeting room side create a series of intersecting viewpoints. These are further
enhanced by the level change in the circulation spine; from the connecting bridge over
the railroad tracks where one descends a bank of escalators which slowly reveals the
complex spatial nature of this central spine.
Eisenman’s Design Ideals
Having been a part of the New York Five, Eisenman has been part of developing
theoretical understanding of new design principles. With his deconstructivisum and post
modern style, Eisenman has started a new way of looking at the way in witch we
understand the relationship of people in there environment.

An American architect, educator and theoretician, Peter Eisenman founded the Institute
for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York City in 1967. The Corbusier-inspired
design of House VI, Eisenman's sixth house design, signals the formalist aesthetic of his
design philosophy. Published widely, the house thus garnered both recognition and
controversy for Eisenman.