Grant Brooker and Robert Harrison: 30 St Mary Axe, Foster and Partners


Grant Brooker and Robert Harrison 30 St Mary Axe, Foster and Partners

March 30, 2022
12:30 PM – 1:30 PM


In the fourth installment of our Beyond the Envelope series of six presentations and student-led interviews within our Spring 2022 Lectures and Events series, Communities, the School of Architecture and Design is thrilled to host Grant Brooker, Senior Executive Partner, and Robert Harrison, Senior Partner, of the London-headquartered practice, Foster + Partners. In a live public broadcast, Grant Brooker and Robert Harrison will present Foster + Partners’ project, the Swiss Re Tower, St. Mary’s Axe, completed in 2004 in London, followed by a student-led interview. This series of presentations and interviews with leading architects is part of the SoAD Master of Architecture course, ARCH 791 Special Studies in Architecture | Beyond the Envelope, taught by Tom Verebes, Ph.D.


Grant Brooker

Grant Brooker

Senior Executive Partner - Head of Studio
BA (Hons), Dip Arch, RIBA, AHKIA


Grant Brooker is a head of studio at the practice, is part of the Design Board, and is a member of the Partnership Board. He leads a wide range of projects including cultural, residential, office, commercial, and transport buildings. He studied at the Canterbury School of Architecture and joined Foster Associates in 1987. His current projects include Ferring Pharmaceuticals A/S Headquarters in Copenhagen, Battersea Power Station masterplan, London, and the Varso Tower in Warsaw.

He became a senior partner in 2004 and has led the teams on numerous projects, including headquarters for Willis, Ernst & Young, and Amazon; several major residential projects; and some of Europe’s tallest residential towers in London and Paris. He also led the masterplan for the recently completed Quartermile district in Edinburgh; ICD Brookfield Place in Dubai; Principal Place mixed-use quarter in London; Narbo Via Museum in Narbonne; the Zénith Music Venue in St Etienne; the award-winning redevelopment of the old port in Marseille; the courtyard at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; and the Virgin Galactic Spaceport in New Mexico.

Grant has been responsible for many built projects in Europe, North America, China, South East Asia, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE ranging from airports to masterplans and museums. At the beginning of the millennium, he worked closely on the Stirling Prize-winning 30 St Mary Axe in London. In 1992, as director of the Hong Kong office, he led the design team for the new airport terminal at Chek Lap Kok. For six years he was based in Hong Kong, and he has continued to work in China, including Dajiang Headquarters for DJI and China Merchants Bank in Shenzhen.

Robert Harrison

Robert Harrison

Senior Partner


Robert studied architecture at Cardiff and Kingston Universities, graduating in 1995, after which he worked at Building Design Partnership, London, where he was involved in a number of infrastructure, commercial and leisure projects.

He joined Foster + Partners in 1995, initially based at the Glasgow office, working on the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, where he was responsible for the building’s external envelope. He returned to London in 1997 to work on the winning competition for the Gateshead Regional Music Centre and the reworking of J.C. Decaux’s UK headquarters in Brentford.

From 1999 to 2004 he worked as the project architect on the Stirling Prize-winning headquarters for Swiss Re in the City of London, better known as The Gherkin. Following its completion, he led the design and construction of the Willis Building at 51 Lime Street, also in the City, completed in 2007.

He led teams on numerous projects in Auckland, Shanghai, and Seoul during 2007-2008, before relocating to Abu Dhabi in 2009 to oversee the construction team on Aldar’s 7 million ft² mixed-use Central Market project. In 2010, he moved to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to run the site operations for four mixed-use buildings at the King Abdullah Financial District.

Returning to London in 2011, Robert spent the next seven years on projects in China and India as diverse as the 7.5 million ft² CR City development and DJI HQ in Shenzhen; Xiamen Airlines HQ, Vantone | Sunnyworld Centre in Shanghai; and the Amaravati Government complex in Andhra Pradesh.

Since 2018, his focus has been to develop projects in New York, Miami, and London for J. Safra Real Estate, several of which are now on site.

He has lectured at the British Council for Offices, the City of London Festival, RIBA, Sponge, Corporation of London, Chartered Institute of Builders, London First, and the Architectural Association. He was made a partner in 2006 and a senior partner in 2021.