I remember a time when radios had an analog dial for tuning. To tune to a certain station, we had to turn a knob to align a moving hand with the desired frequency on a linear or circular dial. We had to rotate the knob back and forth and listen as the signal would get louder the closer we got to the desired station’s frequency, then get softer as we went past that point, and then back again to when the signal was loudest. The goal was to hone in gradually on that sweet spot where the signal was clearest and strongest.
Today, of course, with digital tuners, we simply have to scan and look at digital readouts. If a station has a frequency of 98.1, you merely dial that number in. Boom. Done.
I think of this comparison of analog dials and digital tuners as a way of contrasting the precision of digital vector graphics with the suggestive power of a hand drawing, which requires a tactile feel along with a lot of judgment about how what we draw matches up with what we actually see. if you look closely at the drawing of the Seattle Central Library above, you will see the multiple attempts I made to get the proportions of the Rem Koolhaas/OMA-designed building right. Each attempt was a turn of the virtual tuning knob until I reached the desired frequency.
I accidentally deleted an email sent to me, I believe, from Augsburg. The sender was inquiring about a spherical perspective similar to the one shown above that I drew of Athens, Ohio, in 1976. The daughter, an art student, might be following this blog, and if so, I hope she will ask the sender to resend the email l so that I can respond properly. Thank you!
Traveled recently to Duluth, Minnesota, for the 32nd Lake Superior Design Retreat, sponsored by AIA Minnesota. Enjoyed hearing from a great slate of speakers who were not architects but rather designers in other realms, such as a restaurateur, blacksmith, game designer, and digital fabricator. During a break on the first day there, I wandered outside the Fitger’s Inn, where the retreat was being held, to sketch this view. It was really cold! While the air temperature was 25°, the “real feel” was 11°, but I managed to last about 20 minutes before heading back inside to the warmth of the Barrel Room, seen below.
The Old Grist Mill in Sudbury, Massachusetts, was designed by Philadelphia hydraulic engineer J.B. Campbell and built under the direction of former property owner Henry Ford. Work on the mill began in 1924 and ground its first “grist” on Thanksgiving day, 1929. The mill is part of the site of the Wayside Inn, the oldest operating Inn in the country. The water-powered mill uses two separate grinding stones to produce the corn meal and wheat flour that is used in the Wayside Inn’s baked goods.
Lan Su is a walled Chinese garden that occupies an entire city block in Portland, Oregon. Designed by Kuang Zhen, it was completed in 1999–2000 by Chinese artisans from Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China, using traditional materials and techniques.
The name Lan Su is taken from parts of the names of the sister cities of Portland and Suzhou. The name itself can be interpreted as the Garden of Awakening Orchids.
The view above focuses on the Moon Locking Pavilion, whose name refers to when the reflection of the moon can be seen in the center of the lake, locked in or framed by the shadow of the pavilion. To the left, in the background, is the Painted Boat in Misty Rain pavilion, representing the friendship that sailed from Suzhou and docked in Portland.
During the summer of 1973, between my first and second years teaching at Ohio University, I worked in Silver Springs, Maryland. Taking the opportunity to tour the D.C. metropolitan area, I visited Reston, Virginia, where I sketched this view of Lake Anne Plaza. I was using a No. 2 pencil at the time, being influenced by Ted Kautzky’s book, Pencil Broadsides.
Lake Anne Plaza was the first of several village centers that formed part of Reston’s town plan designed by James Rossant and William J. Conklin. This particular hub clustered a mix of shops, townhouses, and apartments around the end of an artificial lake. Inspired by the Garden City movement, the plan for Reston accommodated moderately dense development while preserving open space, natural landscapes, and wildlife habitats.
Lake Anne Village Center received quite a bit of national publicity and critical acclaim when it opened in 1964. It was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2017 and remains the historic “heart and soul” of Reston, Virginia.
The Asian Art Museum closed in 2017 to allow for a major renovation and expansion designed by LMN Architects to occur. This drawing shows the new wing added to the rear of the original structure that will house a new gallery, education studio, conservation center, and community meeting room. With more exhibition space, the museum will now organize artwork by themes that link cultures, histories, and belief systems to convey the diversity and complexity of Asia, the world’s largest continent.
The rebirthed Asian Art Museum will open to the public on the weekend of February 8 and 9, 2020.
This sparse drawing attempts to convey this elegant Art Moderne building designed by Carl F. Gould, a University of Washington professor of architecture and partner in the firm of Bebb and Gould. Located in Volunteer Park in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, it served as the Seattle Art Museum from 1933 until 1991, when a new SAM designed by Robert Venturi of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates was completed in downtown Seattle. The building was subsequently renovated and reopened in 1994 as the Asian Art Museum. The building is a designated Seattle landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
*The Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that they are located on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people.
San Miguel Arcángel was built in the late 17th century in the colonial Baroque style, but in the 19th century, a local builder Zeferino Gutiérrez Muñoz was asked to rebuild the towers and facade that had suffered substantial cracking over the years. He was a bricklayer by profession and so he relied on a postcard of Cologne Cathedral in Germany for inspiration. The result is a massive pseudo-Gothic structure that has become the iconic emblem of San Miguel de Allende, 50 miles west of Querétaro.
This sketch, done quickly as a demo, is an example of how it is possible not to complete every detail or part of a scene, especially when drawing symmetrical compositions. It is often enough to merely suggest one part and then let the imagination of the viewer complete the view.
The iconic roof structure of KeyArena on the Seattle Center grounds will be the only remaining part of the original coliseum after it is redeveloped into an NHL and NBA venue. Because the ongoing excavation is lowering the ground level beneath the existing footings, a network of temporary steel supports is necessary to hold up the roof structure until new foundations can be placed. Now called the Seattle Center Arena, the coliseum is scheduled to open in the spring of 2021, in time for the new Seattle NHL franchise. Oak View Group is the developer for the project; Populous is the architecture firm; and Mortenson is the general contractor.
Paul Thiry designed the original structure, the Washington State Pavilion for the 1962 World’s Fair—the Century 21 Exposition. It was soon renamed the Seattle Center Coliseum, which served as a venue for sports, concerts, and other entertainment over the decades. In 1994–95, NBBJ-designed a renovation to bring the coliseum up to NBA standards and and naming rights were sold to KeyBank, which renamed the coliseum KeyArena. Notably, the coliseum was the home of the Seattle SuperSonics before the team’s sale in 2006 and ultimate move to Oklahoma City in 2008.
This second drawing of the arena’s roof structure is from a slightly different point of view and strips away much of the surrounding activity to focus primarily on the shell.