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Slick work.


Edited by David Jenkins. Prestel. 2005. [pounds sterling]60

The Foster office deserves to have its work beautifully recorded, and this, the second of the six volumes that we are promised, does just that. Works 2 is largely concerned with the 1980s, although it does not stick too tightly to chronology. This series is an enlarged update of the Watermark series edited by Ian Lambot, and some of the material in Volume 2 of that series re-appears here.

Works 2 covers an important period in the development of the Foster office: the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank and the reinvention of the high-rise office building. The work at the Royal Academy and at Nimes, and the confident, but sympathetic insertion of our world into key historic sites. The BBC and Paternoster, both sadly unrealised, and the demonstration of a contemporary urban realm. That's a pretty good list of original contributions to have come from just one office.

This book illustrates and describes the buildings and projects in a matter-of-fact way, and, like the buildings, it is stylish and beautiful without having any gimmicks or silly eccentricities. In case you think that you have seen it all before, the descriptions of the buildings are interspersed with articles by well-known critics. I particularly enjoyed Jack Zunz on Architecture and Technology; Deyan Sudjic on Foster Mark Three and Richard Weston on Confronting History; but there are others as interesting, including some by Foster himself.

All good books contain a surprise. For me it is the National Indoor Athletics Stadium planned for Frankfurt. I must have seen images of this many times in the past, but it is only with the presentation in this book that I realise what a stunning masterpiece this design is. Alas! Like so many of the designs in this book it remains a project. One tends to think of the Foster Office as all-conquering, but they clearly get their disappointments too.

Book reviews from The Architectural Review can now be seen on our website at and the books can be ordered online, many at special discount.
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Title Annotation:Norman Foster: Works 2
Author:Winter, John
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2006
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