Fonds Foreign Office Architects

Fonds Foreign Office Architects

Inclus dans

Personnes et institutions

  • Foreign Office Architects (architectural firm)
  • Farshid Moussavi (architect)
  • Alejandro Zaera-Polo (architect)
  • Foreign Office Architects (archive creator)


Fonds Foreign Office Architects

Dates de création

circa 1983-2011


  • archives

Niveau de description archivistique



  • 159,095 digital files (358.3 GB)
  • Approximately 33,587 reprographic copies
  • 8179 photographic materials
  • Approximately 510 drawings
  • Approximately 210 ephemera
  • 70 models
  • 63 video recordings
  • 24 maps
  • 18 artefacts
  • 12.01 l.m. of textual records
  • 12 digital media
  • 4 books
  • 2 notebooks

Présentation du contenu

*** Please contact the CCA's Reference Team (ref@cca.qc.ca) to access the full finding aid for this fonds. ***

The fonds documents the professional practice and activities of the Foreign Office Architects between circa 1989 and 2011, with a primary focus on their architectural, design, and exhibition projects. Additionally, the fonds includes various publications that featured the work of the Foreign Office Architects. The fonds is arranged into five series: Projects; Publications and Promotional Material; Office Records; Personal Slides; Reference and Research Material.

The fonds fluctuates in its comprehensiveness, with some projects being well documented from competition stage through to completion, while others are represented by only a few drawings, slides or a single book of presentation material. The most thoroughly documented projects include the Yokohama International Ferry Port Terminal, Japan (1995-2004), the Belgo Restaurants in London and New York City (1998-1999), the Link Quay Waterfront Competition, Santa Cruz de Tenerife (1998-2006), the South East Coastal Park & Auditorium, Barcelona, Spain (2000-2004), the Watermark West Quay Development, Southampton, England (2002-2010), the Trinity EC3 Office Complex, London, England (2003-2007), and the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, England (2003-2012).

The Projects Series consists primarily of computer-aided drawings, including design-development, construction, and presentation drawings, as well as renderings of computer-generated models and hardcopies of plans. Many projects are documented with photographic material and supported by textual records, chiefly correspondence via fax, and planning and design notes. A small amount of projects also include original sketches, models, and presentation panels.

The Publications and Promotional Material series is minimal, and consists primarily of textual records, chiefly correspondence that is often accompanied by small sketches or notes. It documents firm publicity and the publishing of books. It notably includes graphic material for a book by the Foreign Office Architects titled Phylogenesis: Foa's Ark, published by Actar in 2003, images of their site-specific installation in the British Pavilion for the 2002 Venice Biennale, and formal portraits of Moussavi and Zaera-Polo by London-based photographer Valerie Bennett.

The Office Records series consists of requests for qualifications and competition entries submitted to by the firm, administrative files, and awards and award documentation.

The Personal Slides series consists of slides of personal travels from the collection of Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo.

The Reference and Research Material series consists of general office resources, slides of architectural details, and a collection of other architects work for research purposes.

The born-digital material in the fonds mainly consists of computer-aided design drawings, images of projects: in-progress or completeted, reference images, correspondence, and reports. Born-digital material can be found in many of the projects within the Project Series as well as in Publications and Promotional Material, Office Records, and Reference and Research Material.

Numéro de réference


Caractéristiques matérielles et contraintes techniques

The fonds contains a number of born-digital files in CAD and 3D modeling formats. Due to the complex and often proprietary nature of CAD formats, proper rendering and use of these files may require highly specific software. CCA’s dedicated Study Room CAD workstation is loaded with a wide but incomplete range of such software. For further information about services and software available for interacting with obsolete or niche file formats, please contact Reference at ref@cca.qc.ca and ask to speak with the Digital Archivist. Original audiovisual recordings require specialized equipment for playback and are not available for consultation.

Mode de classement

Material in the fonds was packed for shipment by a shipping company after the disolution of th FOA offices in 2011. The material arrived with no discernible order with project material from multiple projects in the same boxes.

In 2014, Talia Olshefsky arranged the material into three series:

Series AP171.S1: Projects

Series AP171.S2: Office Documentation

Series AP171.S3: Reference

Within series 1 and 2 there was multiple subseries. The material was re-grouped and re-housed by project. The archivist arranged the projects chronologically starting with the earliest. The material within projects was processed by material type as necessary.

In 2021, Nina Patterson reprocessed the fonds to eliminate subseries and rearrange the fonds into five series:

Series AP171.S1: Projects

Series AP171.S2: Publications and Promotional Material

Series AP171:S2:Office Records

Series AP171.S4: Personal Slides

Series AP171.S5: Reference and Research Material

The born-digital component of the archive was unfinished from the first processing of the fonds. In between 2022-2023, Nina Patterson re-disk imaged the carriers and rearranged the material to reflect the new arrangement. High-level folders in the directory structure have been described as discrete groups and arranged into the approriate project or series. Within the directories, material has not been rearranged.

Histoire administrative

Foreign Office Architects Ltd (FOA)

The London-based architectural firm the Foreign Office Architects Ltd (FOA) was established by Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo in the early 1990s, and formally registered as a firm in 1995. The firm practiced both architecture and urban design, and self-described as being “dedicated to the exploration of contemporary urban conditions, lifestyles and construction technologies.” The firm was involved in a wide variety of projects, including housing developments, department stores, restaurants, office complexes, urban parks, auditoriums, railway stations, ferry terminals and furniture design. The international practice existed until April 2011, at which time Moussavi and Zaera-Polo dissolved the Foreign Office Architects and formed their own independent practices.

The Foreign Office Architects participated in numerous international exhibitions and expositions, including events in Spain, England, Japan, France, Portugal, Finland, Austria, Sweden, the USA, and two Venice Biennale International Architecture Exhibitions. Their multiple awards and honours include a Biennale Venezia Golden Lion Award (2004), a Royal Institute of British Architects Award (2005), a Premio AD Arquitecto del Año award (2007), and a BD Architect of the Year Award in the category of Retail Architect (2008).

Published monographs include:

FOA’s Ark_Evolving Container for the Proliferating Singularities

Korean Architecture and Culture Magazine, South Korea, December 2004

Phylogenesis: FOA’s Ark, Published by Actar, Barcelona, Spain, 2003

Complexity and Consistency, A monograph by El Croquis, No.115/116, Madrid, Spain, 2003

The Yokohama Project, Published by Actar, Barcelona, Spain, 2002

FOA Recent Projects, Published as 2G, No. 16, Barcelona, Spain, 2002


Alejandro Zaera-Polo is an architect, professor, and author. He was born in Madrid, Spain, in 1963. He holds a Diploma of Architecture with Honours from the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura, Madrid, Spain, and a Masters in Architecture with Distinction (MARCHII) from the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University.

Zaera-Polo established his own London-based practice in 1993 as ‘Foreign Office Architects ltd’ (FOA), together with Farshid Moussavi. In 2011 the firm was split into two independent practices, with Zaera-Polo forming his own practice, ‘Alejandro Zaera-Polo Architecture Limited’ (AZPA). In 2013, Zaera-Polo partnered with Maider Llaguno, a former FOA architect, to form ‘Alejandro Zaera-Polo and Maider Llaguno Architecture’ (AZPML).

His academic posts include serving as Dean of the Princeton University School of Architecture (2012-2014), Dean of the Berlage Institute in Rotterdam (2002-2006), a Visiting Critic at the University of California Los Angeles (2002), Princeton University (1999), Columbia University (1998) and the Berlage Institute of Architecture, Amsterdam (1997-2002), and serving as an Associate Professor of Design at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura, Madrid (1992-1995).

Zaera-Polo has lectured internationally, at academic institutions, congresses, and symposiums, and as a theorist his writings have appeared in international publications including El Croquis, Quaderns, A+U, Arch+, Volume and Log. In 2010, he authored the book The Sniper's Log: Architectural Chronicles of Generation-X.


Farshid Moussavi is an architect, professor, and author. She was born in Shiraz, Iran, in 1965. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Dundee University, Scotland, a Diploma of Architecture at University College London, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UK, and a Masters in Architecture (MARCHII) from the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University.

Moussavi established her own London-based practice in 1993 as ‘Foreign Office Architects ltd’ (FOA), together with Alejandro Zaera-Polo. In 2011, the firm was split into two independent practices, with Moussavi forming her own practice, ‘Farshid Moussavi Architecture Limited’ (FMA).

Moussavi has held the position of Professor in Practice of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design since 2005. Her previous academic posts include Professor and Head of the Architecture Institute at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria (2002-2005), Kenzo Tange Visiting Design Critic at the Harvard Design School (2005), Unit Master at the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London (1993-2000), a Visiting Professor at the University of California in Los Angeles (2002), Columbia University (1998; 2001), Princeton University (1999) and the Berlage Institute of Architecture, Amsterdam (1997), and a Design Professor at the Hoger Architectuur Instituut Sint-Lucas, Belgium (1993-1995).

Moussavi has lectured internationally, at academic institutions, congresses, and symposiums, and acted as a jury member for numerous international architectural competitions and awards. She was a member of the Board of Trustees of The Whitechapel Gallery from 2009-2018, as well as The Architecture Foundation in London, and has previously been a member of the advisory group to the British Council, the Mayor of London’s ‘Design for London’ initiative, the International Design Committee for the London Development Agency, the RIBA Gold and Presidential medals, and the Stirling Prize for Architecture. She has authored books that have been translated into several languages, including The Function of Ornament (2006), The Function of Form (2009), and The Function of Style (2014), and has been a contributing columnist for the Architectural Review magazine since September 2011. In 2018, Moussavi was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to architecture.

Conditions d’accès

  • Digital material can only be accessed on-site. Please contact Reference at ref@cca.qc.ca for more information. Access by appointment only.

Conditions de réproduction

  • For copyright information or permission to reproduce material from the fonds, please contact the CCA at reproductions@cca.qc.ca.

Modalités d’entrée

  • Gift of Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo on July 19th, 2013.

Notes de l’archiviste

  • An assessment report of the accession was created by Elisabeth Cowell in 2013. The FOA fonds was originally processed and described by Talia Olshefsky from 2014-2015. The born-digital material was left unfinished. In 2018, an asessment of the work that needed to be completed on the born-digital material was completed by the Digital Archivist at the time, Tessa Walsh. In 2021, Alexandra Jokinen began work on a re-processing plan for the fonds on the occasion of the archival management system migration from TMS to ArchiveSpace. The fonds was eventually reprocessed for migration by Nina Patterson and the physical material was completed on 25 April, 2022. In 2022, the born-digital material was re-diskimaged and completed using updated tools and standards. The material was integrated into the updated arrangement.

Mention de crédit

When citing the collection as a whole, use the citation:
Foreign Office Architects fonds
Collection Centre Canadien d'Architecture/
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal;
Don de Farshid Moussavi et Alejandro Zaera-Polo/
Gift of Farshid Moussavi and Alejandro Zaera-Polo

Langue et écriture des documents

English, Dutch, Japanese, German, Spanish


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