The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 7
Much of the current discussion of hand drawing assumes that the art form is on
its last legs. A common wistful sentiment is: Why doesn't anybody draw anymore?
It's (mostly) older architects who despair that younger practitioners are neglecting a
valuable tradition in favour of something newer, shinier and, yes, much more powerful.
Doesn't that always happen? I had started to wonder whether this discussion was
at all productive, since it seemed to be preaching to - and read by - the converted.
So I was pleasantly surprised when, a few months ago, an international illustration competition for architectural students received almost as many hand-done
entries as digital ones, and they covered the spectrum from design sketches to
The competition, the 2019 American Society of Architectural Illustrators (ASAI)5
Student Competition, was held in April of this year, the Professional Competition (now
34 years old) having been held in March. This competition, Architecture in Perspective
(AIP), is unique in that it juries digital and hand-done drawings side-by-side, relying on
artistic merit, regardless of technique, to separate the great drawings from the merely
good ones. In recent years, digital drawings have represented a significant majority of
submissions. But, this year, hand drawings staged a comeback.
Not only does this bode well for the future of traditional hand drawing, it also shows
that you don't have to be an architectural dinosaur to appreciate the value of hand
drawing. As Martin C. Pedersen confirms in "Drawing Should Still Matter to Architects
and Designers,"6 "The truth is, younger architects and designers continue to draw,"
although, he adds, "What I don't think post-computer designers do, [...] is draw continually through the process."
But the future of hand drawing is not necessarily assured, either. In his Commonedge
essay, "The Pleasures and Futility of Teaching Drawing to Architecture Students,"7
Graham McKay laments that "I spend as much time advocating for [hand drawing's]
usefulness as I do teaching it." He goes on to say, "The strong point of drawing is that
it can't make design ideas look any better than they are. By the same token, this is
probably why it's falling out of favor with architects and students alike."8
I think McKay's verdict may be premature. Thanks to educators like him, rumours
of the death of hand drawing are greatly exaggerated. Just as important, the discussion continues.
SINGLE-HANDEDLY: CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTS DRAW BY HAND.
NALINA MOSES, ED. NEW YORK: PRINCETON ARCHITECTURAL PRESS, 2019
he discussion of architectural hand drawing rests on two questions. First: Is
hand drawing still a useful design tool, in this age of digital modelling? Second:
Are hand drawings still viable presentation and communication vehicles, compared
with computer renderings? The answer to both questions is: it depends - on the
idea, the illustrator, the audience and the intent.
Single-Handedly presents a compendium of contemporary architectural images
drawn, as the title suggests, by hand. The book focuses on the usefulness of hand
drawings in expressing and developing architectural ideas, with some attention given
to how those ideas might be communicated to a viewer. It largely avoids the question
of presentation drawing, i.e., drawings intended to persuade, but it does present a
strong case for the sheer delight of hand drawing.
In the book's introduction, Nalina Moses writes, "A hand drawing often also possesses
an alluring unfinished quality, as if it's still right now being completed, and remains
open to possibility." (p. 12). A convincing example of this can be seen in the marker
drawings of Lars Steffensen (p. 122). Using drama, spontaneity, texture and dynamic
composition, Steffensen's drawings present an exceptional advertisement for the
ability of hand sketching to generate excitement in an architectural or urban proposal.
The Right Angle | Fall 2019 | 7
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019
Index to Advertisers
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - Intro
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - cover1
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - cover2
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 3
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 4
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - Drawing
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 6
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 7
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 8
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 9
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 10
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 11
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 12
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 13
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 14
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 15
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - 16
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - Index to Advertisers
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - cover3
The Right Angle Journal - Fall 2019 - cover4