Hagia Sophia is a Mosque (Again)

It was reported last week that Turkey’s Council of State had granted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan permission to open the Hagia Sophia museum to Muslim prayer. It is sad to see the venerable structure, long a symbol of peaceful religious coexistence, being converted into a working mosque for what appears to be political reasons.

Built in the year 537 as an Orthodox Christian cathedral by the Byzantine emperor Justinian, Hagia Sophia was converted to an imperial mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. But in 1934, the cabinet of Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk decreed that it be turned into a museum. It subsequently became a Unesco World Heritage site much beloved by both local and foreign tourists for the awe-inspiring scale and beauty of its domed structure, along with its religious iconography and historical significance.

Because Hagia Sophia already has a remarkable record for enduring natural and artificially imposed disasters, there is hope. Hagia Sofia’s future is yet to be written.

In Appreciation of Tunney Lee

Nine years ago, I posted on FB my appreciation of my mentor Forrest Wilson, who offered me my first teaching position at Ohio University and was instrumental in facilitating the publication of my first book, Architectural Graphics.

Today, I want to express my appreciation of Tunney Lee, Professor Emeritus at MIT, who passed away last week in Cambridge, MA. After serving as head of MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Tunney founded the Department of Architecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1991. In 1993, Tunney offered me the opportunity to visit CUHK and work with his students and faculty. During my brief stay, I became impressed with the enthusiasm of the students and faculty as they worked hard at developing their creative and critical thinking skills as well as building the foundation for a new program. It was also an exciting and rewarding time for me personally when Dr. Ho Puay Peng was kind enough to accompany me to my ancestral village of Nam Bin in Guangzhou prefecture.

I will always remember Tunney as being a wise, inspirational leader as well as a caring friend and colleague.

Notre Dame

During this stay-at-home time, I am continuing to post drawings from when I was a student a long time ago. Above are views of two Notre Dame cathedrals. I posted the first, Notre Dame on the Île de la Cité in Paris, a couple of months ago. The second is of the cathedral on the University of Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Indiana, drawn a few months before graduation in the spring of 1966.

55 Years Ago

Here is another set of drawings of the iconic view looking down Via de’ Pecori toward the Duomo in Florence, Italy. While construction of the cathedral began in 1296, it was not completed until 1436 with the dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi. The first sketch above was done with a stub nib in 1965 and the second was drawn with a fine-tipped nib in 1995.

Ching Ming Festival

A brief interruption before I post the latter stages of my drawing of the Nikon FE2 SLR to honor the Chinese tradition of Qingming or Ching Ming (清明 – Tomb Sweeping Festival), which has been observed for more than 2500 years and falls this year on Saturday, April 4th. It is a time for Han Chinese to honor their ancestors, usually by visiting, cleaning, and bringing offerings to the tombs of the departed. In lieu of this, I am posting rubbings of the tombstones of my paternal grandparents, accompanied by their English translations.

Duluth, Minnesota

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

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.

More Travel Sketches from 1965

Following up on the last post, here are a couple more sketches from my summer travels in 1965. The above is a view of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris; below is Notre-Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France.

EPSON MFP image

I still remember how I had to press while drawing with the fountain pen because the stub nib restricted the ink flow. This resulted in the relatively dark feel of the sketches.

More Looking Back…

Rummaging around some old stuff stored in the basement, I came across more drawings that I did while traveling around Europe after spending the summer as an intern with Wilson & Womersley, an architectural and town planning firm in London. Above is a drawing of Piazza San Marco in Venice, done with a stub nibbed pen in 1965. Below is a similar view done with a fine-tipped nib in 1995. Prior to this, I had believed the only drawing that survived was one done of the Spanish Steps in Rome.

I will be posting a few more over the next couple of weeks.