Spencer de Grey

In this episode of the ‘Inside the Archive’ series, Senior Executive Partner and Head of Design at Foster + Partners, Spencer de Grey, reminisces his beginning in Foster Associates before contributing to some of the practices major works and collaborating with figures that have influenced his vision.

Spencer de Grey begins his narration in 1973, with his first experience at Foster Associates. Forty-seven years ago, de Grey felt inspired by his conversation with Martin Francis on the glass wall of the Willis Faber, that he describes as an incredibly pioneering piece of technological and design work, before starting his collaborative work with Norman Foster.

With an unusual building type, the Palmerston Special School led the designers of the project to keep a loose space for the building as they were unsure of the response from children with handicaps to the structure. Spencer de Grey recollects the HSBC building as the first big overseas project of the studio, starting with a huge international banking Company, and as a great challenge.  With the consultation of Feng Shui experts, the team included the necessary designs to the success of the company. De Grey’s most memorable project the Sage Gateshead was defined by the designer as one of the projects that does not happen many times in your life. Spencer de Grey develops the challenge that the building posed, answering the big vision of a world class concert hall.

Finally, Spencer de Grey evokes his experience working with Buckminster Fuller and Norman Foster, collaborating with external professionals to lead a dynamic approach reflecting the pioneering spirit from those days. De Grey concludes with the importance of environmental responsibility in future designs and the practice’s duty to lead the way.