Foster rival gets a Stalin brush-off

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Foster rival gets a Stalin brush-off

Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Nov 01, 2004 7:17 pm

THE tactic is more redolent of Stalinist Russia than the rarefied air of an architect’s office. A “team photo” of employees of Lord Foster, who has designed some of the world’s most famous buildings, has been “airbrushed”, downgrading the importance of the architect’s former right-hand man.

In the original photograph Ken Shuttleworth, a former senior partner, is in pride of place beside Foster. Shuttleworth is credited by many with being one of the creative forces behind Foster’s “gherkin” tower in the City of London.

In the published version, however, included in a new book of Foster’s work, Shuttleworth has been shunted sideways and back one row into the crowd of some 350 workers.

Graham Phillips, a senior partner who was away when the main photograph was taken, has been pasted into the prime slot at Foster’s right hand.

News of the picture doctoring will add to a dispute in the world of architecture over whether Shuttleworth — nicknamed “Ken the Pen” for his rapid, immaculate draughtsmanship — has been given credit for his role in the gherkin.

Shuttleworth, 52, left Foster’s firm in December after almost 30 years to start a rival practice, Make. He employs 18 former Foster staff.

This weekend he was adamant that there was no rift with his former master, but was mystified about his demotion to the ranks. “I don’t know why he has done it. I was there for 30 years and did a huge amount of work for him and it was fantastic. It is quite sad,” he said.

Shuttleworth added that the first he had known about the change in the photograph, originally taken in 2002, was when he was in a bookshop buying the fourth volume of Foster’s Works, published this month.

“I was flipping through it and noticed the picture at the back and thought: that wasn’t like that,” he said.

Another former Foster employee, who declined to be named, was more forthright. “It was because he was one of the bigwigs who left that they moved him,” she said. “None of the others in the photo who left have been moved. A bit of competition is fair enough.”

She added: “He (Shuttleworth) looks like a nobody now (in the picture). It is just silly.”

While Shuttleworth describes his relations with Foster as “amicable”, others have said that his key role in the design of the gherkin — headquarters of Swiss Re, the insurance firm — has not been fully acknowledged.

Hugh Pearman, architecture correspondent of The Sunday Times, said: “With large architectural projects, it is never one person. Ken has as much right to claim Swiss Re as Foster.”

Earlier this month Foster made no mention of Shuttleworth in his acceptance speech for the Stirling prize, Britain’s leading award for architects.

Asked about Shuttleworth afterwards, Foster said: “He was one of many talents to have contributed to the office.”

He said of Shuttleworth’s new practice: “I don’t know what he is doing. I haven’t seen anything built.”

The altering of photographs to improve the looks of models and celebrities is widespread in the modern media.

Use of the technique to downgrade the status of an individual, however, has become less widespread since the collapse of communist regimes in eastern Europe. The art reached its zenith under Stalin, the Soviet dictator. When fellow communists such as Trotsky and the police chief Nikolai Yezhov — nicknamed the Poison Dwarf — fell from favour and were killed, they were removed from official photographs altogether.

Shuttleworth, by comparison, has thrived since his downgrading. He has even begun winning commissions from Foster, including a plan to regenerate a site at Elephant and Castle in south London.

He is known by those who have worked with him for his laid-back, friendly style. This contrasts with Foster’s reputation as a strong-willed, sometimes domineering leader.

Some experts believe Foster may have removed Shuttleworth to make it clear that the two men’s paths have parted.

“Foster needs to remain the brand name in his business and Shuttleworth has become more famous by standing on his own two feet,” said Robert Booth, editor of Building Design magazine.

Foster shows no signs of faltering. At 69 he is still one of the world’s most influential architects. He recently declared that his work designing the new Beijing airport was the “largest project on the planet”.

A spokeswoman for Foster said the team photograph was merged with another later picture because not all key staff were present: “Some people may have been moved in the process, but everyone present on that day is represented.”
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Re: Foster rival gets a Stalin brush-off

Postby RSJ » Sun Nov 07, 2004 12:23 am

Here are thosepictures, in full smudgy newsprint quality:
Attachments
fostershuttleworth_after01.jpg
fostershuttleworth_after01.jpg (50.95 KiB) Viewed 2597 times
fostershuttleworth_before.jpg
fostershuttleworth_before.jpg (13.38 KiB) Viewed 2591 times
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Re: Foster rival gets a Stalin brush-off

Postby Paul Clerkin » Sun Nov 07, 2004 2:26 am

Quite a good photoshop job - Stalin would have been quite envious....
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Re: Foster rival gets a Stalin brush-off

Postby alan d » Mon Nov 08, 2004 1:48 pm

that's amazing, frankly. Did he think no one would notice?

Just shows you, you can be the world's most admired architect but still lack confidence.
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Re: Foster rival gets a Stalin brush-off

Postby gweilo » Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:20 pm

Just par for the course from Foster. It's how he operates. Used to buy into all that hagiography crap 'til I started getting to know people that worked with him and knew where the bodies where buried. Still it's fascinating to see that Foster is still human and eats and shits and feels vulnerable like the rest of us. Its just that his shits are probably shrink wrapped ;) !
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Re: Foster rival gets a Stalin brush-off

Postby alan d » Mon Nov 08, 2004 5:09 pm

................maybe keeps them on file too and in some order?
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Re: Foster rival gets a Stalin brush-off

Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Nov 08, 2004 5:12 pm

in a nice stainless steel filing cabinet...
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Re: Foster rival gets a Stalin brush-off

Postby alan d » Mon Nov 08, 2004 5:13 pm

has them tested regularly.....just to make sure they hav'nt been tampered with and they are in fact all his
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Re: Foster rival gets a Stalin brush-off

Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Nov 08, 2004 5:37 pm

... and not kens
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Re: Foster rival gets a Stalin brush-off

Postby alan d » Mon Nov 08, 2004 5:42 pm

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha
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Re: Foster rival gets a Stalin brush-off

Postby MelissaRobinson » Thu Nov 27, 2008 3:47 pm

I realise this is a late response, but am currently doing a study on image in architeture and am wondering if RSJ can tell me where the images posted are from?? Thanks
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