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Norman Foster’s Tulip Is Instagram Architecture at Its Emptiest

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If there’s one thing London needs right now, in the midst of opaque Brexit haggling and a fuzzy economic outlook, it’s clarity of vision — the figurative kind. Trust an architect to take that metaphor literally and, with a grand voilà, unveil a plan to help people see out to Surrey from a high point in the heart of the City. Norman Foster, a.k.a. Baron Foster of Thames Bank, has proposed the Tulip, an observation deck on a concrete stem, 1,000 feet in the air. This is to be no ordinary viewing platform, but a multistory glass bubble, where visitors can have a drink or a meal, absorb a little history, hurtle down a glass slide, and tiptoe across sky bridges. Best of all, they’ll be able to climb into a glass pod that glides across the façade exterior, bobbing and looping gently far, far above Bishopsgate. This kind of vision, London can do without.

Foster has spent decades as an architectural magus, fashioning glass and steel into domes, bubbles, bug-like carapaces, levitating canopies, airports that look like they’re about to follow the planes into the skies, and towers held together from the outside in. The firm produces so many iterations of cool high-tech drama that the James Bond franchise could film all future films in Foster Partner works and never run out of locations. The office has also provided several cities with their defining guidebook-ready image, including the crystalline cupola atop Berlin’s Reichstag (united Germany’s beacon of democracy) and HSBC bank tower in Hong Kong, a statement of the........

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