New Yorkers, not to mention architecture critics, have been waiting with bated breath to see the plans for the controversial $300 million overhaul of the New York Public Library's historic flagship branch on Fifth Avenue. And today, the designs by Foster + Partners, were finally unveiled. The renovation of the Beaux Arts-style library, completed in 1911 by Carrère and Hastings, will remove seven floors of stacks under the grand Rose Main Reading Room to make way for a 300-person workspace with an expansive atrium, balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, bookshelves, and new areas devoted to classrooms and computer labs. As of now, interior finishes will include a combination of bronze, wood, and stone. The plan is to transfer approximately 3 million books to new storage spaces beneath Bryant Park, and then send the remaining 1.2 million books to an off-site location in New Jersey. The newly renovated NYPL building on 42nd would then house the collections from the Mid-Manhattan Library and the Innovative Science, Industry, and Business Library. “We are reasserting the library’s main axis and its very special sequence of spaces, from the main Fifth Avenue entrance and the Astor Hall, through the Gottesman Hall, into the dramatic volume of the new circulating library, with views through to the park,” Foster said in a statement on the firm’s website. “Our design does not seek to alter the character of the building, which will remain unmistakably a library in its feel, in its details, materials, and lighting. It will remain a wonderful place to study. The parts that are currently inaccessible will be opened up, inviting the whole of the community—it is a strategy that reflects the principles of a free institution upon which the library was first founded.”
Posts tagged with "Norman Foster":
The neighborhood around Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal is about to undergo monumental change as the Bloomberg administration pushes to upzone areas around Park and Madison avenues. Already, Norman Foster recently unveiled his plans for a new 425 Park tower, viewed as a precursor to what's bound to be a taller neighborhood and the NYC Department of Transportation announced intentions to close Vanderbilt Avenue to automobile traffic to help with already-overflowing sidewalks. But in anticipation of Warren and Wetmore's Grand Central celebrating its centennial next year, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) asked three firms—SOM, WXY, and Foster+Partners—to re-envision the Beaux-Arts masterpiece and its surrounding midtown neighborhood with an eye toward the train station's next 100 years. The results of the Grand Central…The Next 100 project were unveiled at this year's MAS Summit for New York City, which wrapped up on Friday and included both down-to-earth and fanciful visions for the future of Manhattan. Each of the three firms used the existing Grand Central as a springboard to create infrastructure that stimulates and interacts with the public realm, connecting the terminal to the street and larger neighborhood. These connections are vital considering the terminal handles up to a million visitors on peak days. Foster & Partners put it succinctly in a statement:
The result is acute overcrowding; connections to the rail and subway lines beneath the concourse are inadequate; and the arrival and departure experience is poor. Added to that, the surrounding streets are choked with traffic and pedestrians are marginalised. The rapid growth of tall buildings in the vicinity has all but consumed the Terminal.All three proposals recognize the importance of the pedestrian realm and push for expanded public space, not only along Vanderbilt Avenue, but also along the terraced Park Avenue weaving around the terminal and along diagonal corridors carved through surrounding buildings. The three teams also proposed different ideas of layering spaces, connecting the street level with a terraced viaduct surrounding the terminal and connections to the activity happening underground. WXY peeled away portions of Vanderbilt Avenue to reveal the subterranean infrastructure that makes Grand Central tick, providing both interesting view corridors and easier access to the train station. The new pedestrian plaza is bookended by an proposed new super-tall tower at its southern terminus and a reimagined MetLife building planted with trees and repurposed as residential, office, and hotel uses with an ambitious cultural anchor at its base. The Park Avenue viaduct has been divided to provide separate automobile and pedestrian / bike access. In addition to turning Vanderbilt Avenue over to pedestrians, Foster reimagined the streets surrounding Grand Central as shared spaces where pedestrians, cyclists, and automobiles share space in a slow-moving environment with faster traffic bypassing the area through an underpass. Through a series of small-scale interventions, Foster sought to provide "breathing room" around the terminal that allows visitors to linger and experience that place rather than simply rush through, accomplished in part through a series of cuts in the pedestrian plaza leading to retail zones. SOM similarly addresses the ground plane with more nuanced pedestrian space, also turning over the entire Park Avenue viaduct to pedestrian use. Their plans turned monumental with several large towers proposed flanking Grand Central with a moveable ring connecting the two floating over the station. SOM also reached out into midtown with a series of POPS, privately owned public spaces, forming diagonal pedestrian streets modeled after the recently opened Holly Whyte Way that connect to surrounding landmarks like the New York Public Library. As a major transportation hub, a historic building, and a commercial space, Grand Central is among the most important anchors in all of Manhattan, and MAS President Vin Cipolla emphasized the need to acknowledge the public experience in the midst of the ongoing rezoning initiatives. Foster added that MAS’s focus on the next century of Grand Central “represents an important and welcome debate that will help shape the future form of the city. The quality of a city’s public realm reflects the level of civic pride and has a direct impact on the quality of everyday life.” The results of The Next 100 will help the MAS is compiling its forthcoming report,The Future of Midtown.
Park Avenue in Manhattan is ready to grow taller, and a starchitect-filled competition won by Lord Norman Foster revealed the first of what's likely to be many new towers along the corridor. But what of the three runners up? Renderings from all four finalist—Zaha Hadid, Richard Rogers, OMA, and Norman Foster—have now been released by L&L Holdings and Lehman Brothers detailing four distinct visions for the future of the New York skyscraper. Foster's final winning design will be presented at the Municipal Arts Society's Summit for New York City, which begins on Thursday, October 18 (Foster will present on Friday at 9 a.m.). Also during the two day summit, an exhibition displaying the work of all four finalists' designs will be on view. Proposal by Zaha Hadid Height: 669 feet; Stories: 40 “The design challenge for 425 Park Avenue lies in producing a structure of timeless elegance, yet with a strong identity that reflects the complex and sophisticated age in which it was created and mirrors the exceptional setting in which it is placed. Our approach has been to unite the four fundamental qualities for the project — Function, Design, Culture and Value — and fuse them into a single seamless design which incorporates these characteristics in a harmonious and unified architectural concept. “With its breezy views up and down Park Avenue and breath-taking vistas of Central Park, the new building is quintessentially “New York” in its very definition. Its sleek verticality breathes the very essence of the city, while its gentle curves evoke a new dynamism of form which is both distinctly contemporary and ageless. This harmony is equally reflected in the building’s openness, flexible design and technological efficiency, providing an adaptable architectural context that allows it to accommodate its tenants’ requirements and desires." - Zaha Hadid Proposal by OMA Height: 648 feet; Stories: 38 “Our current aesthetics oscillate between nearly exhausted orthogonality and a still immature curvaceousness. “Our building is an intersection of these two observations: it proposes a stack of three cubes —the lower one a full solid block on Park Avenue, the smallest on top, rotated 45 degrees vis-a-vis the Manhattan grid, oriented beyond its mere location in a sweep from Midtown to Central Park. “The three cubes are connected by curved planes to create a subtle alternation of flat and 3 dimensional places, each reflecting sky and city in their own way." - Rem Koolhaas Proposal by Rogers Stirk Harbour Partners Height: 665 feet; Stories: 44 “We have created a contemporary homage to the quintessential New York skyscraper, by designing a tower that will define the next chapter in their illustrious story. Our solution acknowledges the design attributes of its neighbours on Park Avenue, but brings new qualities: honest expression; generosity; efficiency and humanity. The clear expression of the process of construction is evident from the huge 43 storey steel frame down to the smallest detail, this gives the building a human scale. “In designing sky gardens, we are reconnecting workers and the city with nature, by using different American landscape ecologies, from forest to alpine, to suit the different altitudes of each garden. These spaces also offer great views of the park and the metropolis." - Lord Richard Rogers Winning Proposal by Foster + Partners [ More Info ] Height: 687 feet; Stories: 41 “Our aim is to create an exceptional building, both of its time and timeless, as well as being respectful of its context and celebrated Modernist neighbours—a tower that is for the City and for the people that will work in it, setting a new standard for office design and providing an enduring landmark that befits its world-famous location. “Clearly expressing the geometry of its structure, the tapered steel-frame tower rises to meet three shear walls that will be illuminated, adding to the vibrant New York City skyline. Its elegant facade seamlessly integrates with an innovative internal arrangement that allows for three gradated tiers of column-free floors. Offering world-class, sustainable office accommodation, the new building anticipates changing needs in the workplace with large, flexible open floor plates. Each of the three tiers—low, medium and high-rise—is defined by a landscaped terrace with panoramic views across Manhattan and Central Park. To maximize the Park Avenue frontage, the core is placed to the rear, where glazed stairwells reveal long views towards the East River, while at street level, there is potential for a large civic plaza with significant works of art.” - Lord Norman Foster
The Times is reporting that four finalists are competing to build a new tower at 425 Park Avenue in Midtown Manhattan: Norman Foster, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, and Richard Rogers. AN previously reported an international roster of 11 firms were in the running. The new tower could be the first of many in the area, if the Department of City Planning's proposal to up-zone the area is approved.
Norman Foster, who, as writer Mark Lamster has noted, “even in his 70s, has the look of a heavy in a Guy Ritchie film,” skis, sketches, and visits his childhood home in Manchester, England, in the film How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?, a documentary produced by the architect's wife that screened on January 25, at the IFC Center. Directed and dreamily photographed by Norberto Lopez-Amado and Carlos Carcas, the film moves seamlessly between irresistible images of Foster's buildings, and the man himself, dashing between projects, reflecting on his career, and earning praise from scriptwriter Deyan Sudjic on everything from his work ethic to his wardrobe. “Everything inspires me,” says Foster early in the film. “Sometimes I think I see things others don't.”
Apple’s new campus in Cupertino has left the design community a bit perplexed. Back in September most of the architectural critics who weighed in on the issue expressed a one-two combination of shock and disappointment. Precisely because of Apple’s design bona fides and Sir Norman Foster’s involvement as the lead architect, they were expecting better. Christopher Hawthorne of the LA Times called it a “retrograde cocoon,” marking it down as a car-centric, “doggedly old-fashioned proposal.” Paul Goldberger of The New Yorker didn’t pull his punches either. He mocked the building as a “gigantic donut” that was “scary” in its lack of functionality and human scale. Though he typically will not judge an unbuilt design based on renderings, in this case Goldberger felt he must:
It’s said that Steve Jobs considers this building to be a key part of his legacy, which would be unfortunate, because it would mean that his last contribution to his company might well be his least meaningful.Despite these cries from the box seats, a revised design that was released in early December didn’t change much from the original. Like the drawings first publicized this summer, the latest renderings depict a vast ring building set within a dense grove of trees. The new design has a darker roof and a more articulated elevation, clad with larger panels of gently curved glass. But the general form and program remain the same. Comprising a total area of 2.8 million square feet, its circular structure will house 13, 000 employees and include a thousand-person auditorium for corporate events. The utter naïveté of the form from an architectural standpoint may explain why the critics are so disturbed. How could such a big-name architect like Norman Foster, known for his pitch-perfect modernism and finesse, have generated such an inefficient plan? Could Jobs possibly be behind it? Jobs, for his part, only went so far as to call his campus a “space ship” at the local town hall meeting in June. With little explanation to go on, neither Hawthorne nor Goldberger connected the design to its most obvious reference: Zen Buddhism, one of Steve Jobs' life-long pursuits since his early days at Reed College. It’s conceivable that the campus plan was handed to Foster by the Apple CEO himself in the form of a simple circle of ink on rice paper. The ensō, or “circle,” is perhaps the most enduring motif in the Zen tradition, one that first appears in Japanese monasteries in the mid-1600s. The Zen circle is not a linguistic character, but rather a symbol that conveys a host of things—the universe, the cyclical nature of existence, enlightenment, strength, and poised contemplation. It suggests the Heart Sutra, which explains that “form is void and void is form,” as well as the path to Bodhisattva-hood. More importantly, the very making of the circle acts like a Rorschach test. As an expression of a moment then the body and spirit most freely create, and in the full sweep of a single brush stroke, the character of the devotee is fully exposed. In each ensō is the trace of spiritual realization. For those who know the life of Steve Jobs, this has special meaning. While still in college, he devoured books on Zen and was transfixed by one class in particular: calligraphy. As he discussed years later, “It was beautiful, historical, and artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.” And it was in 1975, after a less successful stint in India, that Steve Jobs –always torn between tech and the spiritual path--deliberated moving to Japan to enter a monastery. But the Zen master Kobin Chino Otogawa (who would later preside at Jobs 1991 wedding) persuaded him not to don the monk’s habit and instead make technology his vocation. Jobs started Apple in April 1, 1976. This personal history and the particular dimensions of the campus circle leave little doubt as to the connection. For a man dying of pancreatic cancer, Jobs was greatly involved in the campus design. He personally presented the project to the Cupertino town council, his last major endeavor as CEO. It is in their painted ensō and attendant poetry that monks over the centuries have each conveyed their own final testimony on enlightenment. This campus is Jobs’, and there are many personal touches. It is graced with thousands of fruit trees –cherry, apple, apricot, and plum trees that have been placed to offer a sense of perpetual bloom through the seasons. As Forbes magazine breathlessly described it:
In late February, around the time of Jobs’ birthday, the show will begin. Pink and white plum blossoms will appear on stands of trees at the center of Apple’s new campus, hinting at more to come. A few weeks later cherry trees scattered strategically along walkways and at the edges of open glades will start to blossom.Fruit trees held a great deal of meaning for Steve Jobs, tying back both to his formative teenage job as an arborist on the Friedland farm and his early diet as an Ehret fruitarian at Reed College. The renderings don’t do justice to this aspect of the landscape design, nor do they offer any glimpse of the interior courtyard. Inside the vast courtyard, employees will experience not just gardens, but also a fountain, an open-air amphitheater, and a dining terrace set beside among apple orchards, a grove of apricot trees, stands of plum and cherry. Void or no void, it’s pretty glorious being on the inside of the Zen Circle of Steve. This bountiful but hidden world reminds me of two Zen paintings in particular, both of which are unique in the history of the art form, in that they have writing inside the usually empty circle. The first was done by Namtembo, a Zen roshi (“master”) who lived from 1839 to 1925. Writing inside the circle he declares:
Within the spinning circle of life we are born. The human heart too should always be kept round and complete.The second is by Isan Shinko, an 18th century master, which has the symbol for heart inside the ensō and reads:
Keep yourself firmly centered inside here and nothing will be able to shatter you.The two messages suggest two rather different ways to cope with the outside world. One is expansive, the other more cautious. Like most people, Steve Jobs had those characteristics, and his company has those traits as well. Apple products seem to strive for “Beauty,” in all its old-fashioned, capital-B form. In using them, you experience a visual elegance and richness of experience unmatched by most other consumer items. You feel their innovation and joy, and they fill you with a round and complete heart. As Jobs himself said nearly twenty years ago in a Money magazine article:
Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.But as a corporate entity, Apple is also known as secretive and distancing. It has a closed garden philosophy. Like its founder, it often works a “doesn’t play well with others” vibe that could feel downright obsessive and reproving. Inside its shatter-proof ring of enlightenment, it’s got no time for us sorry-sack laymen. As Jobs once said, “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” Yes, excellence requires focus, and as Jobs was fond of saying:
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.Of course, unlike the delicate washes of ink and water that comprise a Zen ensō, the new Apple campus is an actual building. It is a Zen circle, but it is also a cenotaph. Like Étienne-Louis Boullée’s famous unbuilt cenotaph to Newton, this building will honor a man who is buried elsewhere. Both are symbolic of the universe. Both are strange monuments to bold innovation. When designed, Newton’s cenotaph was, as Jobs described his new HQ, a space ship, otherworldly by every 18th century definition of the term. There are even similarities in the plan, though the Boullée design has rings of trees around an enclosed sphere, while Foster’s campus has a ring building enclosing a vast grove. Newton’s cenotaph has lines of trees that would skirt processional roads. Apple’s plan bulges with thick groves and a light improvisation of threaded paths. Both designs honor men who were social misfits in their youths but who strove for such excellence as adults that they were lauded on a near-global scale well before their deaths. Of course, there’s nothing more “un-Zen” than a cenotaph, the most brazen act of defiance against life’s impermanence. But that is part of the contradiction of Jobs, or indeed any business person with spiritual leanings. His friend Dan Kottke playful poked fun at this schism in a letter sent to Jobs as early as 1977 and published in Businessweek:
After performing an extensive prana to the lotus feet of suchness, gaze lovingly upon picture with cosmic thoughts of cosmic relevance and profundity until phone rings. Answer phone, haggle furiously, and refuse to sell for less than $2.3 million.In the end, Jobs seems to pull it off. The words of his commencement address to the Stanford class of 2005 would take on greater resonance years later when it is clear he had, at the time, actually been fighting pancreatic cancer for nearly two years:
Almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.You can’t get more Zen than that. Sean Daly is the Managing Director at Windtunnel Visualization, a brand agency and 3D design development firm in New York.
Hearst Tower 959 8th Avenue New York, NY As written in the AIANY Design Awards issue of Oculus, Summer 2007:
With its efficient use of resources, abundant natural daylight and fresh air, and modern technologies, this 856,000-square-foot building designed by Foster + Partners and completed in 2006 is the first in New York City to receive a LEED Gold rating for its core, shell, and interiors. Most notably, it was constructed using more than 80% recycled steel. The diagrid framing uses 20% less steel than conventionally framed towers, and it was designed to consume 25% less energy than most Manhattan towers.Continued from Oculus, Summer 2007:
The original, landmarked cast-stone façade by Joseph Urban and the new tower are linked on the outside by a transparent skirt of glazing that floods the interior spaces below with natural light and gives the impression that the tower is floating above the base. The building’s main spatial element is its atrium lobby – a vast internal piazza. It occupies the entire shell of the original building and features a 340-seat company cafeteria, the 168-seat Joseph Urban Theater, and exhibition spaces. A series of diagonal escalators take riders from the street-level lobby to the atrium level. They are between two halves of Ice Fall, a cascading water-and-glass sculpture designed by James Carpenter, which cools and humidifies the air.Writers, like architects, are constantly scrambling for work, so in uncertain times, the construction of two monumental buildings for the print media (also the New York Times Building) gave hope to writers that their craft could sustain big buildings. Each “Building of the Day” has received a Design Award from the AIA New York Chapter. For the rest of the month—Archtober—we will write here a personal account about the architectural ideas, the urban contexts, programs, clients, technical innovations, and architects that make these buildings noteworthy. Daily posts will track highlights of New York’s new architecture. Read more at www.archtober.org/blog.
The world learned last night of the untimely death of Apple mastermind Steve Jobs, who succumbed to a rare cancer he had been fighting for some time. Jobs' architect, Norman Foster, was slow to acknowledge the commission of Apple's new Cupertino, CA headquarters, but he was appropriately quick to offer his condolences. Below, read Foster's tribute to the innovator who helped push the boundaries of both technology and industrial design.
With my colleagues I would like to pay tribute to Steve Jobs. Like so many millions our lives have been profoundly and positively influenced by the innovations pioneered by Steve and Apple, names which are inseparable. We were greatly privileged to know Steve as a person, as a friend and in every way so much more than a client. Steve was an inspiration and a role model. He encouraged us to develop new ways of looking at design to reflect his unique ability to weave backwards and forwards between brand strategy and the minutiae of the tiniest of internal fittings. For him no detail was small in its significance and he would be simultaneously questioning the headlines of our project together whilst he delved into its fine print. He was the ultimate perfectionist and demanded of himself as he demanded of others. We are better as individuals and certainly wiser as architects through the experience of the last two years and more of working for him. His participation was so intense and creative that our memory will be that of working with one of the truly great designers and mentors. Norman Foster Architect Chairman + Founder of Foster + Partners
Behold! The unveiling of Apple's next product... the iBuilding. Okay, so it's not a product, but it is their highly-anticipated new campus in Cupertino, California. Steve Jobs, wearing his trademark mock turtleneck and jeans, revealed the plans—with fancy, although somewhat grainy renderings—at yesterday's Cupertino City Council meeting (watch the video after the jump). According to several reports, the architect of the new complex, whose land Apple bought from Hewlett Packard, will be Norman Foster, but that hasn't been formally announced. A few highlights of the new design: Apple's new HQ is shaped like a doughnut, a spaceship, or an iPod trackwheel. It's clad in curved glass with a giant courtyard in the middle. While Apple plans to increase it's employees from 9,500 to 13,000, it will reduce its surface parking by 90% (from 9,800 to 1,200) and most of the parking will be underground. The vast majority of campus is set aside for landscaping (with an estimated 6,000 trees). According to Jobs, the building will generate its own clean energy using the grid as backup. Given how the council treated Jobs like a visiting god, it looks like the company should get the project passed. If it moves forward, the new campus is expected to be complete by 2015.
According to the Las Vegas Review Journal and Engineering News Record officials at MGM Resorts want to demolish Foster & Partners' unopened 27-story Harmon Hotel, a major part of the $8.5 billion CityCenter development. The building was originally designed as a 47-story tower, but major construction errors and subsequent time and money issues led to its drastic reduction in size. Lawsuits will prevent anything from happening to the building until at least 2012, says MGM. "Right now, I have a building I can't do anything with," CityCenter CEO Bobby Baldwin told the LVRJ, adding that Harmon has become "the poster child for nonconforming work worldwide." For the record the Harmon's web site still says "Coming Soon." In its recent third-quarter earnings statement, MGM Resorts said it took a $279 million write down for the Harmon and concluded "it is unlikely the Harmon will be completed using the building as it now stands. "Baldwin concludes: "It was one of the most beautifully designed buildings ever, and it's sitting static for over two years... The most sophisticated of all the architects (Foster) ended up being involved in a building that was our biggest disappointment."
Last night, I was lucky enough to enjoy assorted swells (but not very many architects) at the Hearst building for a screening of the enigmatic “How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?", a film devoted to his lordship’s extravagantly photogenic architecture and life of work. Or so it looks in this approximately 90 minute film which sweeps us from the Engadin Alps where Foster annually plows through a 26-mile mile cross-country ski marathon in tight black lycra with some 14,000 others to his redbrick childhood home quite literally on the wrong side of the tracks in Manchester to his current home in a Swiss villa, spectacularly void of human touches, to his 1,000-plus strong office in London to the early Sainsbury Centre; the Swiss Re gherkin; the British Museum Great Court; the Berlin Reichstag, etc, etc, and of course, the
Hong Kong Beijing Airport that is the largest building on earth as narrator Deyan Sudjic intones mellifluously. (The trailor below provides but a morsel of this delight.)
Many of his buildings are seen as if from the wing of a Cessna gliding overhead—especially the great dinosaur-scaled Millau Viaduct in France—with the nice touch of swelling slow-mo clouds, and almost as if Foster himself were at the controls. And possibly he was, as we learn that he is quite the speed and height freak. All is accompanied by an original, also very swelling, score performed by the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra.
The cocktail party was not so dizzying with guests including Cesar Pelli, Rafael Viñoly, Vishaan Chakrabarti, Mark Wigley, Beatriz Colomina, Bob Stern, and Paul Goldberger who after the film said he had no recall whatsoever of where or when he was filmed speaking so glowingly of the Hearst tower. Pelli remembered exactly when he first met Foster in the 70s, when he was the partner in charge of design at Victor Gruen and Foster insisted on a meeting. Meanwhile, Foster smiled as graciously and blankly as the many on-hand socialites known primarily to Lady Foster, who produced the film. When asked about the film, Foster said he was amazed that it was so deep in detail. Agreed! And then we were all called into the auditorium where Lady Foster by way of introduction to “How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?” said: “And we were able to follow Foster closely for three years!” As his wife, I should hope so.
And, oh yes, the title comes from a question Buckminster Fuller, a mentor of sorts for Foster in the 70s, asked on visiting his Faber headquarters in Ipswich many years ago. Apparently it weighed quite a few tons. And for one night of fun, so did his film.
The City of London unveiled a new version of its iconic red doubledecker bus today, replacing the Routemasters everyone knows and loves. Which was a little surprising, as we thought Transit London had already selected the ever-so-British team of Norman Foster and Aston Martin 17 months ago. But apparently that was just an ideas competition while this, as the video above shows, is the real deal. Set to hit the road by 2012—just in time for the Olympics, no less—the new buses are the work of Thomas Heatherwick and Wrightbus. In addition to being super sleek, the new buses are super sustainable hybrids. Get on board after the jump.