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Editorial, London, United Kingdom

Thursday 17 May 2007

The new face of Fosters

Editorial by WAN Editorial in London, United Kingdom
Photography: Ken Kirkwood, Nigel Young, Foster + Partners & Dennis Gilbert 
Editorial by WAN Editorial in London, United Kingdom Editorial by WAN Editorial in London, United Kingdom Editorial by WAN Editorial in London, United Kingdom Editorial by WAN Editorial in London, United Kingdom Editorial by WAN Editorial in London, United Kingdom Editorial by WAN Editorial in London, United Kingdom
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Exclusive insight to firm's home-grown chief 

Lord Foster of Thames Bank stood down this week and handed the reigns to the relatively unknown Mouzhan Majidi as part of the firm’s much publicised re-structuring. Iranian born Majidi will become CEO and will handle the day to day running of the practice, Foster himself will be retained as chairman. The investment giant 3i has taken almost 40% of the shareholding for a reported £100 million valuing the company at about £300m. Much of this will be re-invested to fund the planned expansion of the practice.

The move comes as no surprise as it had undergone an internal reorganisation program in preparation. In 2005 the practice was broken down into six architectural design groups each working on a range of building types all over the world, overseen by a design board. Foster’s much publicized personal “brand value” has been locked into the deal by 3i who reportedly insisted that his name be assigned to the company.

Majidi’s long standing loyalty to the Foster brand has finally been rewarded. His path has been a classic, up through the ranks career having joined as a graduate in 1987, taking 20 years to reach the top position. Many of his former colleagues however have taken a faster track route and left the practice to start up on their own. The highest profile and most contentious of the “rebels” being Ken Shuttleworth who left in 2005 to set up MAKE which now employs over 120 staff in three offices.

Majidi graduated from Strathclyde University in 1987 with a first class honours degree. As a student, he had received various awards including the RIBA Part 1 Design in 1985 and RIBA Silver Medal for the best national diploma project in 1987. His inaugural project at Fosters was Stansted Airport Terminal Building, which was completed in 1991. Later that year he was made an associate.

A move to Hong Kong in 1992 saw him appointed as director responsible for the design of Hong Kong International Airport from its inception to completion in 1998. He had left London as a bachelor and returned as a family man having married Faranak, a mechanical engineer.

Back and settled in London with a son and daughter, Majidi set about extending his Surbiton home. After Hong Kong Airport this should have been a walk in the park but talking to the London Times he admitted, "The basic idea came easily, but it took two years of tweaking and amending to get it to a point where I was ready to start." Good job the Foster meter wasn’t running.

Thumbnails from left to right: 1-2 Stansted Airport (1981-1991), 3-4 Wembley National Stadium (1996-2007)and 5-6 Hong Kong International Airport (1992-1998).

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