Forthcoming Spring 2021
About the Book
The drawing has always been our most essential method of communication. Drawings have offered us both a glimpse into the past and a view to the future. As a vehicle of transferring ideas, it is without equal. As the computer gains ground in our society, the drawing and the ability to execute it are diminishing. Many architectural educators continue to extol the virtues of the drawing and the sketch; however, students seem to not comprehend the value and the didactic nature of this fundamental act.
The availability of paper during the Renaissance, ushered in a power, recognition and acceptability of the drawing. Suddenly an architect or artist could sketch an idea and the concept could be communicated to others far afield. This phenomenon has remained unchanged for hundreds of years. It lingers today; however, it increasingly is seldomly used. Sketches today are seen more as trophies of the past. Designers often create the sketches after the design is finished, as a nod to the past and as proof of their all too false process.
During the Renaissance, the word “disegno” was used to describe both the act of design as well as that of drawing. What a magical concept! I still believe that these two acts are actually the same. Like the Hamsa hand or Lissitzky’s photomontage, when one draws something, the connection from the eye to the brain to the hand is immediate and crucial. As one renders an architectural drawing, one must consider all aspects of the scene; the material, the details, the sun, the space. The immediacy of the decisions cannot be overstated.Many consider Michelangelo the first to execute both the ‘presentation’ drawing as well as the ‘working’ drawing. Michelangelo completed a number of drawings representing the niches in the Laurentian Library, which he apparently gifted to friends. These drawings mark the beginnings of the drawing as an object, something that could be saved and gazed upon. The architectural drawing was no longer merely a communication device, it had become an artifact itself. Michelangelo is also responsible during the construction of Saint Peter’s Basilica, for the first use of drawings as elements that were used on the site as references for construction.
During the Beaux-Art period, the architectural drawing reached its pinnacle, often solidifying its importance over the design itself. The designs became formulaic, which allowed the time to construct the complex and beautiful images that represented the buildings. Modernism naturally questioned this procedure and began the neutralization of the drawing. Still, we often identify certain architects by the idiosyncratic drawings that they produced. Think of the charcoal drawings of Mies Van der Rohe’s early skyscrapers, the sketches of Le Corbusier or Kahn, the fantasies of El Lissitzky or Chernikov. It is often difficult to separate the drawings from the designs or the architect. This condition seems to no longer exist. There is an obvious hedonistic quality to the act of drawing. It is not always pleasurable. There are times when it is uncomfortable and tedious. However, there are many things in life that share these qualities and yet there is a recognition that they still must be done.
Over the last thirty-five years, Andrews has discovered some interesting and disturbing things about the act of drawing. One should understand the nuances of the both the process and the product. It is a tremendously time-consuming action that offers no easy answers. One should both comprehend and value the end product. One should take possession of the project through the medium of the drawing and know it intimately by constructing it through that process. There are times when the act is accompanied by a sensation that is almost audible. This perception is brought on only by this particular type of toil. The drawing must become part of you.
Brian Andrews, through his devotion and persistent dedication to draw architecture – evidenced by the profuse selection of images included in this book – reminds us of the continuous vitality of such practice. It also confirms that individual expression in the representation of buildings is an irreplaceable moment in any creative process that requires the putting in motion of the very human tripartite mechanism composed of eyes, brains and hands that is charged to produce scaled models of reality. This effort of translation of what we see outside ourselves or in our imagination, (being images or words), into other media with the purpose of producing targeted, focused effects of technical, emotional, intellectual or purely sensual nature, is what comes to the fore when looking at his drawings of imagined but real buildings. They do all that. But there is more: throughout this display of personal renditions of his own architectural ideas and creations we also perceive that extra that some rare architectural drawings offer: the presence of the draftsman behind them, his emotions, the physical presence of his hand, and all that which is impossible to hide and that comes when one is drawing with the eyes and the brain and which Brian sums up so vividly in his introduction to the book “There are times when the act (of drawing) is accompanied by a sensation that is almost audible . . . .The drawing must become part of you”. A book not just for those architects that still draw, but for those that have not experienced the sublime joys and pains of engaging buildings and ideas through the medium of drawings.
Partner Machado Silvetti – Architecture and Urban Design.
Nelson Robinson, Jr. Professor of Architecture, Harvard University
Brian Delford Andrews’ work, Vervm Fictvm, is an autobiographical journey, a marriage of formal architectural history and a personal interpretation of the world. In many ways, Andrews is moving forward while looking sideways, crafting projects grown from the infrastructural and emerging vernacular typologies that constitute the everyday American landscape. The given world is the point of departure in the creation of whole new worlds. In those, he generates the narrative on his own terms through an exquisite collection of stories and drawings, both speculative and documentary. The range of representative techniques and drawing conventions are encyclopedic and disparate, reminding us of the necessity of storytelling and the evocative nature of doing so through drawing. Vervm Fictvm is a great resource for students and practitioners alike, underscoring the essential nature of drawing by hand as the primary means for architects and designers to communicate with themselves and engage the world around them.
Marlon Blackwell, FAIA
E Fay Jones Distinguished Professor
Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design
University of Arkansas
About the Author
Brian Delford Andrews received his BArch from Tulane University and his March from Princeton University. As an undergraduate student he studied in London at the Architectural Association for a year.
Andrews is a registered architect and has continually practiced while teaching. He received the Skidmore, Owings and Merrill Traveling Fellowship, and has taught at the University of Virginia, Syracuse University, and the University of Southern California. He served both as the Robert Mills distinguished Professor at Clemson University and as the Hyde Chair of Design Excellence at the University of Nebraska. He is currently a professor at the University of Memphis. Brian Andrews’ projects, drawings and writings have appeared in various journals, including Architecture, Modulus, Architecture Boston, and the Journal of Architectural Education. He co-authored Architecture, Principia Architectural Principles of Material Form with Gail Peter Borden. He recently published Rationalism and Poetry, Guiseppe Terragni’s Asilo D’Infanzia Sant ‘Elia. Andrews has exhibited at numerous universities including Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Rhode Island School of Design and the University of Texas.