When the University of East Anglia picked an architect for its new Sainsbury Center for Visual Arts in 1980, it made a surprising choice. Rather than going with a more established name, the university instead gave the project to a largely unknown architect named Norman Foster. As it would turn out though, Foster wouldn’t remain unknown for long. By the time he was finished, not only was the center well on its way to becoming an iconic structure, but Foster was becoming an icon in the architectural world himself.
The remarkable history of Foster and the Sainsbury Center is recounted by Witold Rybczynski in his new book, The Biography of a Building (Thames & Hudson). Rybczynski, a professor of urbanism at the University of Pennsylvania, thoroughly details every part of the story, from the museum’s original conception to the present day, all while mixing in the stories of those people involved in the process. In doing so, he provides a compelling portrait of an important cultural space that continues to be a prominent example of Foster’s talent. The book also features an introduction by Foster and a visual history of the museum, with 50 images including architectural plans, pictures of the building pre and post construction, and selected works from its collection.
Set for an Oct. 24 release, the book currently can be preordered from major suppliers such as Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble, which should be able to start shipping in early October, according to the publisher. Copies are priced at $29.95. For more information, click here.