Roger Ridsdill Smith

For the thirty-third episode of the ‘Inside the Archive’ series, we join Senior Partner and Head of Structural Engineering at Foster + Partners, Roger Ridsdill Smith. Joining the studio in 2011 to set up an internal structural team, he reflects how the experience widened his perspective on design. He immediately felt part of a culture of “intense discussion” to “evolve both the design and the design philosophy”.

For every project there is a process of “constant curiosity; constant examination”. While the focus on design has been the primacy placed on producing ideas, Ridsdill Smith emphasises the importance of selecting ideas through appraisal to determine which can be pursued and which have already reached the end of the process.

When working with Norman Foster, Ridsdill Smith became very aware of how he would assimilate a lot of information, and then make an interesting judgement on how the project in question should evolve.

Such rigour and integration is reflected in the designs for Apple stores, located all over the world. Ridsdill Smith recalls how the particular challenge to the design team was to assemble “a huge amount of services into very tight spaces”. Through designing in three dimensions, successful solutions were reached, responding to the constraints of each site.

Looking to the future, Ridsdill Smith sees the Foster studio continuing to evolve in the direction of sustainability; something which it has long addressed through attention to efficiency in design.