Is drawing dead? That was the burning question (and title) of last weekend’s symposium at the Yale School of Architecture, which assessed the contemporary state of drawing through three days of lectures and panels, with pen-and-paper proponents from across the architectural spectrum. This convergence of many great drawers past and present coincided with the recently opened exhibition Massimo Scolari: The Representation of Architecture, a largely drawing-based show on view through May 4 in the School of Architecture Gallery. To the central question, the answer came quickly, and it is "no." Many other fascinating and important questions were raised along the way: What is drawing's role in an increasingly computerized design culture, with the rise of BIM technology, computational design, and digital modeling? What is the relationship between the quick, loose sketch and the rigorous, precise computer model? How can drawing, in any medium, inform the process and ultimately, the final building? How do we mediate between real and imagined, and how has that changed? The Friday night keynote came from Sir Peter Cook of Archigram fame, who identified, through countless examples, the moment when drawings are at their most interesting and their most creative. Somewhere between rough sketch and final rendering, a drawing will show the right amount of information, while remaining visceral and tactile. Contemporary computer renderings, Cook joked seriously, often have suspiciously well-mowed grass and suspiciously happy children. He is interested in the slightly less polished version, where the building remains fictional in an honest way. Saturday morning, Julie Dorsey of Yale's Department of Computer Science showed off her new drawing software, The Mental Canvas, which allows users to create 3-D hand sketches on a computer, using an assemblage of floating, transparent "canvases" which can be rotated, moved, and scaled. Next, Andrew Witt of Gehry Technologies worked back from new drawing technology in “A Reverse History of Mechanized Drawing 2012–1900.” It was one of the more lively talks and displayed the history of drawing technologies from early digitally triangulated meshes, kinetic models, and stereoscopic drawings to the 18th-century Italian drawing machines and the projective geometries necessary for the beautiful curves of Neo-Classical staircases. There were some fantastic retro-digital environments form the ‘70s, which oddly seem more "real" now than they probably ever did. Marion Weiss of Weiss/Manfredi illustrated how the uncertainty of hand sketching and charcoal drawing informed the final forms and textures of the firm's Barnard College Diana Center. She also described their Brooklyn Botanical Garden Visitor Center as a series of sections dissolving into the earth, thus mitigating the transition from urban condition to nature. On the other hand, Greg Lynn of Greg Lynn FORM office took the stage and claimed territory for those who sketch on the computer. He exalted that "The rest of you proudly hold up your pens and pencils, but I would hold up my mouse." All in all, the weekend offered a lively and provocative series of talks, filled with rich examples that served to inspire and inform. Despite the fact that a few of the presentations struggled to make a clear point about the role of drawing today, ultimately, the symposium showed that drawing is far from dead. In typically ironic Yale fashion, the best evidence of representation's continuing importance may be the struggle to talk coherently about it. Now excuse me while I go find my pencils.
Posts tagged with "Greg Lynn":
Frank Gehry is trying to save architecture, and it's about time. His company Gehry Technologies, which provides technology and related services to design and construction firms, on Tuesday announced a plan to bring together "the world's most distinguished architects" in a "strategic alliance" intended to transform the building and design industries through technology. In other words they've put together a really impressive advisory board. The list of architects, designers, and business leaders includes: David Childs, Zaha Hadid, Greg Lynn, Laurie Olin, Wolf Prix, David Rockwell, Moshe Safdie, Patrik Schumacher, and Ben van Berkel. That's no joke. Among other things, the group will strive to promote higher quality projects, greater efficiency, and more cost effective techniques. "We have a tremendous opportunity to be better and more efficient," said Gehry Technologies CEO Dayne Myers. He and Gehry Technologies' Chief Technology Officer Dennis Shelden suggested that the group, which will meet in person once a year and via conference call quarterly, could address the industry's crippling wastes in time, money, and materials by promoting better work flow and communication, among other things. "When this group speaks it's going to carry a bigger weight than any of them individually, or just Gehry Technologies," added Shelden. Kicking things off the company just announced a partnership with Autodesk to improve the capabilities of Building Information Management (BIM). In an unprompted statement from the AIA, which offered its support as well, AIA President Clark Manus pointed out that "as much as 30% to 50% of all time, money, materials, and resources that go into a construction project do not add value to the final product." That's impressive too, just not in a good way.
It seemed like a good idea at the time: After a long day looking at work and talking to folks, why not tag along with some people more glamorous than we are and head to the Dark Side Club, a nightly series of gatherings organized around the Biennale. Hard to get an invite? Cool! Starts at 11 and continues all night? We're not as old as we look, dammit! In a fantastic palazzo that no one can seem to find? Right on! Prosecco and chocolates? Hell, yeah! Lectures to a silent and reverential crowd at midnight? Ahem... We may have snoozed through much of our college art history lectures, but isn't being part of a self-consciously avant-garde group supposed to be a hell of a lot of fun? The idea behind the Dark Side Club is a solid one—interesting people drinking cocktails and talking about interesting things in a beautiful room—but in practice, it was pretty solemn and somewhat humorless. The roster for the three days includes Greg Lynn, Patrick Schumacher, Mirko Zardini, all interesting folks, and the whole shebang is organzied by Jeffrey Kipnis. We were sitting near Peter Cook of Archigram fame—and we bet those guys knew a thing or too about constructive troublemaking—and a pal asked him if the program the night before had been as dry. "This is positively WET compared to last night!" he responded, and promptly fell sound asleep in his chair.