Some of my favorite things to view when visiting an architectural center or museum are the sketches and drawings created by architects. Most buildings begin with these kinds of loose drawings, revealing the initial thoughts and designs of the architect. There are several examples of this crucial part of the process currently on view in Architectural Explorations at the Heinz Architectural Center. (This is the 8th installment of this exhibition, which aims to illustrate the different aspects and processes of architecture for the kids attending summer camps at the museum.)
A highlight of the show is a set of Samuel Mockbee’s architectural drawings, from sketches to collages to a rendering of a house built as part of the Rural Studio project Mockbee co-founded as a professor at Auburn University. The group of drawings gives us an understanding of his working process and, more generally, the kind of visual and conceptual thinking that goes into an architectural project. These works are especially intriguing because Mockbee uses color throughout, unlike most architects using graphite or ink on paper. The collage gives us a glimpse of the community that Mockbee and his students in the Rural Studio have affected through their designs. The larger rendering shows the refinement of the concept before construction started on the house.
Samuel Mockbee, Lucy’s House, Mason’s Bend, AL, 2001, ink, colored pencil, pastel and watercolor on paper; Purchase: gift of the Drue Heinz Trust
Samuel Mockbee, Lucy’s House, Mason’s Bend, AL: Lucy and her daughter in their old dwelling, 2001, ink, colored pencil, pastel, paint, fabric, and black and white photographs on paper; Purchase: gift of the Drue Heinz Trust
Architecture is many different things beyond the buildings we inhabit. This small portion of our collection includes models, drawings, sketches, and collages that are all part of the process of architecture. Stop by the Heinz Architectural Center to see work by architects such as Samuel Mockbee, Steven Holl, and Louis Kahn.
Don’t miss this Thursday’s Culture Club event, Unconventional Materials/Inventive Architecture. Have a drink, get a tour of the exhibition from some local architects, and try your hand at constructing an experimental living space with some unusual building materials (and maybe win a prize!). Happy hour starts at 5:30.