Tuesday, December 07, 2010

PW Starred Review: Norman Foster: A Life in Architecture

We were thrilled to see Publishers Weekly award a starred review to NORMAN FOSTER: A LIFE IN ARCHITECTURE. This professional biography was one of our most interesting books of the fall season, and this review nails why people responded to Foster's life story so well, regardless of their taste in architecture or knowledge of the field today. Thanks, PW!

Norman Foster: A Life in Architecture
Deyan Sudjic, Overlook, $37.95 (320p) ISBN 978-1-59020-432-0

Though Sudjic (The Language of Things) takes readers on an engrossing tour of Foster's life as a renowned architect, it's the exquisite attention to detail in recounting that life--particularly the childhood–that brings this book to such vibrant life. Foster came from humble means; growing up in England's Crescent Grove--"unmistakably on the wrong side of the tracks"--left a lasting impression on Foster. His working class parents "had failed in what they wanted to do with their lives," Foster believed. Following his education at Manchester, he turned down a Fulbright scholarship because he didn't think it offered the "flexibility to work" and instead pursued the Henry Fellowship, which led him to study architecture at Yale. In the United States Foster was thrilled to "reinvent himself." Sudjic, director of London's Design Museum, does a remarkable job examining influences, Buckminster Fuller among them, who "gave Foster the ambition about what architecture might be" and deftly describes the irony of Foster's fame as the architect of influential buildings like the Hong Kong Bank which, though it elevated Foster to international acclaim, came at such great expense that it did little to make him more employable. Photos. (Sept.)

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