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“Quality is an attitude of mind.” The great architectural mastermind of our time Norman Foster, who turned 80 in June 2015, here reflects on a long and prosperous career – and life – with prominent buildings and more than 1,000 employees all over the world.
Foster has always considered technology to be an ally. As a child he was immensely excited by machines and their speed – he spent many hours making sketches of and reading about them. He left school at age 16, did National Service for two years, worked different jobs to earn money, but never abandoned his private world of drawing and dreaming. When he discovered that he as an architect could actually do the things that had always excited him, it simply didn’t feel like work.
Respecting the structure of a city or a place is essential: “I’ve realized the important links between individual buildings and infrastructure.” Architecture has to address the bigger issues and make a difference to the world we live in. Architects can’t solve every problem in the world, but what they can do, however, is to contribute by turning the complex into something simple via shape as well as material and being aware of the “urban glue” that binds everything together: “We have rethought, redesigned, reinvented. We have questioned and gone back to basics.”