Deborah Berke

For the tenth episode of our ‘Building the Future’ series, we join Professor Deborah Berke, Dean of the Yale School of Architecture, who has known of Norman Foster’s work throughout her professional career and first met him as a junior faculty member at Yale.

Berke observes that the impact of his architecture goes beyond the buildings themselves, to address the global challenges of the climate crisis, overpopulation and imbalances between services. She notes that over several decades Norman Foster has championed thinking about interrelated factors “cohesively, coherently and together”, and his building’s environmental role is both serious and considered.

In examining the purpose of an architectural archive, Berke recalls having a long discussion with Norman Foster about what it means for an architect to have an archive. She notes that in contrast to the prevailing idea of an archive as paper documents, the Norman Foster Foundation’s Archive includes both drawings and objects which have acted as “creative inspiration” in order to fully record the creative process of a lifetime.

Looking towards the future of architecture, Berke highlights Norman Foster’s position as an inspiration for new generations to document their thought processes, to never stop drawing and to “never stop looking around”. She emphasises how the qualities of leadership, intellectual capacity and endless curiosity are reflected across his career, and how his greatest work is his life’s work as a whole.