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.

A Home-Bound Sketch: Part II

Continuing the series of drawings that shows the development of my sketch of a Nikon FE2 manual SLR. In the view above, the nobs and dials atop the camera body have been extended vertically from their positions in the previous sketch, and the neckstrap has been added.

The 55mm f2.8 micro-Nikkor lens is projected outward from the camera body, using the previously drawn central axis as a guide for the circular forms.

Finally, shading is added to indicate the dark mottled surfaces of the camera body as well as the curved forms of the knobs, dials, and lens barrel. The final touches included adding the Nikon logos on the prism housing and lens cap, and the etched FE2 on the camera body itself.

Note: This drawing was done using the Procreate app on an iPad with the Apple pencil stylus. This enabled me to capture stages of the drawing as jpeg images.

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.

A Home-Bound Sketch

Looking for something to draw during the current stay-at-home situation, an old manual SLR caught my eye. Here is a sequence of views showing the process by which I captured the Nikon FE2, a beautifully crafted machine. First, as shown above, I blocked out the main body of the camera. I placed the body to the right to allow for the later inclusion of the neckstrap.

Next, I developed the angled, faceted corners and the off-center position of the viewfinder and lens housing.

I then blocked out the viewfinder prism and lens housing along with a very important line, perpendicular to the body, that indicates the central axis of the lens. This would help guide the later development of the cylindrical forms of the lens.

The next step was to indicate the circular positions and sizes of the shutter speed dial, shutter release button, film winder, film rewind dial, and the eyelets for the neckstrap.

Next week, I will show the final stages of development.

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.

Lan Su Chinese Garden

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.

Thought, Inspiration, and Mastery

Above each of the three entrance portals to Suzzallo Library on the Universiity of Washington campus (see sketch below) are three cast stone figures representing Thought, Inspiration, and Mastery. Above is a composite view of these three figures. Here is another, more careful attempt of Thought.

The proportions of the human figure is sometimes so difficult to get right, even when they are frozen in stone or marble. At the same time, I believe it is so important, as is the capturing of the “gesture.”

Lake Anne Plaza

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.