Who Is Famed Architect Norman Foster?

The famed British architect is known for designing the Millennium Bridge in London and Apple's "Spaceship" headquarters

Known for creating innovative and unique buildings and structures, Norman Foster and his design firm have left their mark on skylines across the Earth.

Based in London, Foster and his firm Foster + Partners have been lauded by the architecture industry for cutting-edge designs and sustainability, garnering more than 600 awards and international fame.

Some of Foster’s most well-known buildings are located in London. “The Gherkin,” as it’s known to locals, is an oblong shaped circular tower and home to Swiss Re insurance company. Built in 2003, the 41-story tower is one of the most iconic buildings in the British capital’s skyline.

London City Hall is another unique structure designed by the firm. Sitting on a large plaza that opens the structure to its citizens, the building is also highly sustainable – a hallmark of Foster’s designs. A curved form allows the building to be shaded as much as possible and cut down on air conditioning. The interior is also naturally ventilated and the cooling system uses groundwater pumped from underneath the structure.

The Millennium Bridge, a 1,049 foot pedestrian bridge, crosses the River Thames connecting St. Paul’s Cathedral to the Tate Modern on in the city’s Southwark neighborhood. The bridge has been featured many times in various international films including Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where it was destroyed by Death Eaters.


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Further west in Germany, Foster spearheaded the restoration of the Reichstag – Germany’s parliament building – which was heavily damaged by war over the decades. Naturally, the existing stone structure was given a facelift, but with that came a new roof terrace. The terrace surrounds a glass dome cupola that shines light into the center of the building. For energy efficiency, the building burns refined vegetable oil to produce electricity.

In the United States, Foster designed the Hearst Tower in New York City. The glass and steel skyscraper rises out of a 1920s masonry building originally commissioned by William Randolph Hearst. The building’s lobby is completely housed inside the original six-story structure. It was also the first office building in Manhattan to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED gold certification.

Apple's new headquarters, a 2.8 million-square-foot ring-shaped structure, in Cupertino, Calif., is also being designed by Foster. The $5 billion project has been nicknamed the "Spaceship" and will have 100 acres of green space in the center of and around the building.

One of his more unique projects, Foster’s firm designed Spaceport America in the Jornada del Muerto desert in Las Cruces, N.M. The world’s first commercial spaceport, it features launch pads, runways and a terminal and is home to Virgin Galactic.

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