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Sir Nicholas Grimshaw graduated with honours from the Architectural Association in 1965 and immediately started his own practic. His early buildings of the 60’s and 70’s gained recognition for their innovative approach to construction and deta
iling with the International Student Service Tower – his first building –winning the principal Structural Steel Design Award in 1969.
Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners was formed in 1980, cementing his early reputation of rational buil
ding design that draws on rigorous engineering and a profound understanding of aterials (chiefly steel, aluminium and glass). Early industrial projects, such as the Herman Miller Factory in Bath and the BMW Headquarters in Bracknell, set a precedent for t
he elemental criteria that would inform his architectural style: structure, space and skin. Gradually the practice increased its breadth, exploring new sectors and tackling new problems.
The Financial Time Printing Works in London’s Dockl
ands, completed in 1988, was entirely purpose-built as an outer skin to accommodate two huge printing presses. It gained recognition for the clear statement of its internal organization from the exterior. The Headquarters and Printing Press for the Wester
n Morning News and the RAC Regional Control Tower are both striking building that introduced offices and public spaces into the practice’s portfolio for the first time.
In 1994 Grimshaw achieved critical acclaim with the new International
Terminal at Waterloo Station, London, designed specifically for the new Eurostar trains linking Britain with continental Europe through the recently completed Channl Tunnel. The roof of the station is a feat of technical ingenuity; its sinuous asymmetric
form responding to the dictates of the site layout and the need to accommodate the height of the trains In 1994 it won the Building of the Year Award and the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion Award for European Architecture.
As the practice moved int
o the new millennium, the Eden Project created excitement both within the architectural community and with the general public for its innovative useof ETFE to create a tropical plant enclosure of geodesic domes, taking the principle of designing the maxim
um enclosed area with the maximum efficiency to new levels. Eden is now in its fourth phase with an Educational Resource Centre, Grimshaw's first timber building – with a stunning roof designed according to natural complex geometries – due
for completion later this year.
Grimshaw's presence overseas in Europe is well established. Eight buildings have been completed in Germany, including the Berlin Stock Exchange, the Frankfurt Trade Fair Hall (which has the largest span roof
in Europe) and the headquarters for both Igus plastics and Vitra furniture. Meanwhile in the Netherlands the success of Grimshaw’s Ijburg Bridges in Amsterdam have inspired plans for a third and fourth ridge. In Switzerland, the spectacular Airside
Centre marks the end of an eight-year expansion project at Zürich Airport. In Spain, where Grimshaw's British Pavilion for Seville's Expo '92 received such acclaim, the art gallery for the Caixa Galicia Foundation in A Coruña is n
The Donald Danforth Plant and Science Center, St Louis, finished in 2001, was Grimshaw’s first building to be completed in the United States. Work is underway on the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center at Rens
selaer Polytechnic Institute in New York State an the Fulton Street Transit Center in Manhattan is in design. The practice’s first project in Australia – Spencer Street Station in Melbourne – is under construction with the expansive dune
-like roof, designed to optimise natural diesel extraction, already becoming something of a landmark in the city.
Sir Nicholas Grimshaw has been at the forefront of environmental awareness within the architectural industry by promoting an agnda
of sustainability. In 2000 Grimshaw became one of the first major practices in the UK to achieve certification for the ISO 14001 (International Environmental Management System standard) by creating an architectural tool for the practice to assess the imp
act of buildings on the environment at the earliest possibe stage of the design process. The system is known and EVA (Environmentally Viable Architecture) and assists with the analysis of energy and cost issues.
Sir Nicholas has lectured worldw
ide. In recent years he presented a lecture entitled Going Green – Architecture, the Environment and Eden at the National Building Museum in Washington DC and last year Structure, Space and Skin in São Paulo, Brazil. In 2003 he gave the Louis
Kahn Memorial Lecture at Penn University, Philadelphia.
Sir Nicholas was elected a Royal Academician in 1994 and awarded the honour of Fellowship to the AIA in the same year. He was knighted by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2002 for Servic
es to Architecture. In December 2004 he was elected President of the Royal Academy of Arts. Earlier this year Grimshaw celebrated its 25th anniversary; Sir Nicholas Grimshaw continues to be actively involved as Chairman of this thriving practice, supporti
ng its offices in London, New York and Melbourne, Australia. He is a registered architect in England, France, Germany and Spain and, following examination in 2002, is registered to practice in the State of New York.
The work of Nicholas Grimsha
w and Partners is the subject of a series of monographs published by Phaidon Press: Architecture, Industry and Innovation deals with the years 1965–1988; Structure Space and Skin covers 1988–1993; and Equilibrium looks at work up until 2000. A
fourth volume is in planning.