The 2013 Legend Michael Graves, FAIA, authored an op-ed in The New York Times, September 1, 2012, titled “Architecture and the Lost Art of Drawing.” The following is an excerpt of the article.
Architecture cannot divorce itself from drawing, no matter how impressive the technology gets. Drawings are not just end products: they are part of the thought process of architectural design. Drawings express the interaction of our minds, eyes, and hands. This last statement is absolutely crucial to the difference between those who draw to conceptualize architecture and those who use the computer.
For decades I have argued that architectural drawing can be divided into three types, which I call the “referential sketch,” the “preparatory study,” and the “definitive drawing.” The definitive drawing, the final and most developed of the three, is almost universally produced on the computer nowadays, and that is appropriate. But what about the other two?
With both of these types of drawings [the “referential sketch” and the “preparatory study”], there is a certain joy in their creation, which comes from the interaction between the mind and the hand. Our physical and mental interactions with drawings are formative acts. In a handmade drawing, whether on an electronic tablet or on paper, there are intonations, traces of intentions, and speculation. This is not unlike the way a musician might intone a note or how a riff in jazz would be understood subliminally and put a smile on your face.
As I work with my computer-savvy students and staff today, I notice that something is lost when they draw only on the computer. It is analogous to hearing the words of a novel read aloud, when reading them on paper allows us to daydream a little, to make associations beyond the literal sentences on the page. Similarly, drawing by hand stimulates the imagination and allows us to speculate about ideas, a good sign that we’re truly alive.
Text reprinted with permission from The New York Times.