High-tech was the last major architecture style of the 20th century. Piano and Rogers’ proposal had beaten 680 other competition entries, but even more remarkably it was actually built, going on to become one of the great buildings of the final decades of the 20th century and embody many of the ideals of high-tech architecture. In a funny way it was entirely fitting, prefiguring how the building would end up symbolising an uneasy alliance between the establishment and 1960s radical culture – an alliance which in a roundabout way has come to define what has become known as high-tech architecture. High-tech origins go back to the high point of post-war modernism. At the other end of the technological spectrum were Buckminster Fuller and Frei Otto who explored what could be achieved through an economy of materials, particularly via tensile structures – which became another familiar feature of high-tech architecture. Inside, the building features innovative open-plan office spaces, and amenities like a swimming pool and roof-top restaurant and garden, which, together with its exemplary energy performance, showed what high-tech could offer the enlightened corporate client. In 1986, high-tech reached what in retrospect was probably its high point, with the completion of Rogers’ Lloyd’s building in the City of London, and Foster’s Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Headquarters in Hong Kong.
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