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Are Architectural Drawings a Thing of the Past?

Has the computer ended the art of architectural drawing? In a New York Times article by architect and Princeton professor, Michael Graves, he discusses how the computer is transforming how the modern day architect works.

“Architecture cannot divorce itself from drawing, no matter how impressive the technology gets. Drawings are not just end products: they are part of the thought process of architectural design. Drawings express the interaction of our minds, eyes and hands. This last statement is absolutely crucial to the difference between those who draw to conceptualize architecture and those who use the computer.”

In the early 1960s, Graves won the Rome Prize and spent two years at the American Academy in Rome. Michael Graves' drawings of (Left) St. Peter's in Rome, 1962, and (Right) Drawing of Santi Nome di Maria in Rome, 1961.

Graves argues that there is purpose to drawing and not just to create a pretty picture. He argues that architectural drawing can be divided into three types: “referential sketch,” the “preparatory study” and the “definitive drawing.”

“The referential sketch serves as a visual diary, a record of an architect’s discovery. It can be as simple as a shorthand notation of a design concept or can describe details of a larger composition. The second type of drawing, the preparatory study, is typically part of a progression of drawings that elaborate a design.The definitive drawing, the final and most developed of the three, is almost universally produced on the computer nowadays, and that is appropriate.”

Graves believes that “drawing by hand stimulates the imagination and allows us to speculate about ideas, a good sign that we’re truly alive.”

Do you think the art of drawing is dead?

Images: New York Times

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