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Ed Dorrell caught up with Norman Foster to discuss his second Stirling success


How did you feel when 30 St Mary Axe was announced as the winner?

I felt it was fantastic news for us, architecture, and for the team and office in general. It is exciting in a broader sense that a tall and commercial building has won an award of such importance. I was not confident that we were going to win - you never can be. It was a cliffhanger until the end.

Do you feel it is something of a culmination of your work in practice?

It's great because it takes the practice back to its roots and the first building we won an award for - Reliance Controls - where we successfully showed that architecture and industry could be one and the same. We were bucking the trend.

It's extraordinary that even now people think it's amazing we have won an award for a workplace.

What do you see as the difference between Business Academy Bexley and the 'gherkin'?

Both make a point about the social condition. The school was of importance because, obviously, we all care about kids. I was particularly proud of the school because, although it has a private sponsor, the budget was very tight. Commentators' comments about the landscaping would not have been made if there was more money about.

It is also extraordinary that it opened less than a year after we first met the client. In the end, either building would have been a worthy winner.

Did you have a favourite among the remaining four shortlisted schemes?

I didn't have a favourite, but I was very excited about the Kunsthaus for reasons that were more than just the building itself. I was excited by its link back to Archigram and the amazing creative talent that has been emerging from the Bartlett under Peter Cook's guidance.

As a pivotal point in your career, has this success made you think further about the development of a succession policy?

Of course we have a succession policy. But it is not something that I worry about because the team in all its facets is so strong. It is a group of extraordinary people that is constantly evolving.

Finally, do you have any idea what you're going to do with the £20,000 prize money?

I want to plough the money back into education and students, together with more funds. I have already entered into conversation with George [Ferguson] about what we might do.

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