Backpage Is Drawing Dead? A Symposium at Yale poses, and answers, the question by Bryce A. Weigand, FAIA
o explore the future of drawing in this digital age, the Yale School of Architecture hosted a symposium February 9-11 entitled “Is Drawing Dead?” Approximately 450 architects, students, historians, theorists, neurologists, digital gurus, and professors gathered in Hastings Hall in the Paul Rudolph-designed School of Architecture building to discuss and debate the question — an issue accentuated by the ready availability of digital drawing resources. The Symposium opened Thursday evening with a
lecture and exhibit of some 160 drawings, paintings, and models by Massimo Scolari entitled “The Representation of Architecture.” Friday’s sessions included five presenters focusing on “The Voice of Drawing: History, Meaning, and Resistance.” Among them was Juhani Pallasmaa, architect and educator from Helsinki, who presented “Drawing with the Mind, Pen, Hand, Eye, and Brain.” Pallasmaa called for “slowness” in the face of digital design capabilities, proposing that “The brain speaks to the hand: the hand speaks to the brain.” Sir Peter Cook, of the Royal Academy of Arts, London — and of Archigram fame in the 60s and 70s — delivered the Friday evening keynote address entitled “Real is only Halfway There.” He featured the identifying creative moment of artists and architects — from Eric Owen Moss, to Hugh Ferris’ City Scapes, to Daniel Libeskind. And from Zaha Hadid’s looping sketches, to Steven
Holl watercolors, to Erich Mendelsohn’s quick pen sketches — and on into the night. Saturday’s morning discussion — “Burning Bridges: Questioning Practice” — led to a final Saturday afternoon session entitled “The Critical Act” and the assertion that after six centuries, “Drawing is not going to die.” Michael Graves spoke of “The Necessity for Drawing: Tangible Speculation” and posed the question: “With all
Michael Graves posed the question: “With all the computers available, why would you ever want to draw?” the computers available, why would you ever want to draw?” He proposed as a counter to this question the inspired drawings of Massimo Scolari and observed that by sketching, we remember. He shared his drawings from school days through travels and those familiar lyrical colored pencil elevations of his 80s buildings. Mario Carpo of Yale closed the formal session with an address entitled “On the Opacity of Architectural Notations” and referenced technical notations from examples as ancient as the Pantheon in Rome. The presenters were all passionate, energized, and never lacking for an explanation. I departed New Haven and Yale with a sense of the value of image-making with whatever medium one chooses, and with the realization that the ideas from the wellspring of imagination have both a deep and rich history and a promising, exciting future. The act of eye to brain to pencil to paper still has a seminal place in our creative quest. Bryce A. Weigand, FAIA, helps lead the institutional work of Good Fulton & Farrell in Dallas.
80 Texas Architect
PHOTOS BY JULIE PIZZO
Weigand’s sketchbooks, kept for over 40 years, are created as a visual diary and catalogue of inspiring places in hopes of someday sparking a real painting or tangible project ... and also as an informal record of his boys’ scribbles when they were two or three years old. Book XIX illustrating scenes of New Haven and Yale is flanked by a whole herd of smaller Moleskines.