I am sometimes asked what my favorite work of architecture is. Rather than name a historic or popular icon, I usually respond by saying that I like buildings that help build neighborhoods and communities. But if pressed to name one, I can only narrow the list down to two: the Pantheon in Rome and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Both are ideal in conception and outlook but also enduringly attractive in the way they have aged and adapted to different uses over the centuries. It is only over time that any design can be truly evaluated for its worthiness.
After the DCA–E Conference in Istanbul, we visited the Cappadocia region for a few days. This is the courtyard of the Kale Konak Cave Hotel where we stayed. Situated at the base of Uçhisar Castle, the enormous rock marking the highest point in the district, the setting offers a magnificent panorama of the surrounding countryside.
A highlight of our visit was walking through the Göreme Open Air Museum, a monastic enclave dating from the 4th through the 13th centuries. This is a view of the interior of Tokali Kilise, the Church of the Buckle, the largest of the more than 30 churches and chapels carved out of the relatively soft volcanic rock formations. Many of the sites contain frescoes still vibrant after all these years.
Here are a few scenes of Istanbul gathered during our recent trip there for the DCA-E Conference. The first is entering the grand courtyard of the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Mosque of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent and the largest in Istanbul, designed by Sinan the Architect.
The second was drawn while sitting at the outdoor cafe of Istanbul Modern, a museum featuring the work of contemporary Turkish artists. The museum is located within a warehouse converted by Tabanlıoğlu Architects, alongside the Bosphorus in the Tophane neighborhood. This view looks back toward the city and the Nusretiye Mosque, built in 1823–1826 by Sultan Mahmut II.
The third view is from a terrace of the Istanbul Modern, looking out toward where the Golden Horn meets the Bosphorus. It is truly amazing how well the numerous ferries and other ships skillfully navigate and share this waterway.
Spent a wonderful day with a group of architecture students from Özyeğin University and other schools in Istanbul. The weather was sunny and pleasantly comfortable. We started off at the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in the Üsküdar district on the Asian side of the Bosphorus and then worked through the neighborhoods of Kuzguncuk and ended up at Beylerbeyi.
This sketch is typical of the quick demos I do when working the students, drawing either in my own journal or a student’s sketchbook. The second image was done as I was experimenting with using the Procreate app in an iPad, drawing with the Apple Pencil. I found the stylus responded really well, especially compared with stylises that I had tried.
After working with students in various countries and cultures, I have found that they are all so similar in their optimism and enthusiasm for learning.
This office building at 3500 First Avenue Northwest reminds me of the formal, geometric modernism of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates and other firms from the 1970s. I was told that Barney Vemo designed and built the structure in that same time period. After walking by this place many times, what I recall in my mind’s eye are these fragments that I drew, not the entirety of the whole as shown in the photograph taken from across the street.
Sometimes, visual memories of places consist of single, iconic images. Think of the Pantheon in Rome or the Eiffel Tower in Paris. At other times, what we remember consists more of a collage of partial views rather than an image of the whole.