Designed by Norman Foster, the Hearst Tower on 57th Street and 8th Avenue celebrated its tenth anniversary last week. To mark the occasion, the British Pritzker Prize-winning architect was on hand to give a talk on the tower while also overseeing the opening of Building with History: The Exhibit which showcases 28 scale models of projects both past and present from Foster + Partners.

At the talk (which was held with ELLE DECOR Editor-in-Chief, Michael Boodro), Foster discussed his architectural philosophy, in particular to the “social agenda” deep rooted in modernism’s ideals, something which Foster was captivated by when he was younger and said today, “still burns.” With the new technology now available at modernists’ disposal, Foster argued that architects today can now “literally do more with less.”

Michael Boodro in discussion with Norman Foster_Photo. (Courtesy Jim Josephs, Studio D)

Michael Boodro in discussion with Norman Foster_Photo. (Courtesy Jim Josephs, Studio D)

“The most interesting buildings always have a certain sense of theater… [and] celebration,” he continued. “In this building, it is about turning an impossible problem into a celebration.” Foster explained how the challenge of placing escalators along the site’s orthogonal axis was resolved by orientating them diagonally. The theatrics of the space was further amplified through artist Jamie Carpenter’s adjacent waterfall.

Building with History exhibits Foster’s focus on circulation on varying scales: From the small-scale infrastructure solutions of the Hearst Tower, Imperial War Museums, and Reichstag, to the pedestrianization of Trafalgar Square. Building with History is filled with more than just models, though. Plans, sections, and photographs detail many buildings’ progressions through the design process.

Speaking to The Architect’s Newspaper after the talk, Foster discussed infrastructure in light of President-Elect Donald Trump’s speech. “Human nature is about crossing boundaries,” he said. “Even though I am an architect and passionate about designing individual buildings… over the years I have become more and more sure that [infrastructure] is the main priority and that architects ignore it at their peril.”

“This exhibit brings back many memories about the inception of Hearst Tower,” Foster continued. “Walking into the building a decade later, you immediately note the flourishing sense of community, and it takes me back to the very earliest days of the project.”

Building with History runs until April 15, 2017. 

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