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Architecture of Imagination

 

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Catskill Studio

Catskill Studio. (1991) Artist/Designer: Lee Dunnette. Watercolor and pencil, 66cm 43cm In this superb image, the choice of color palette, handling of atmospheric effects,and language of ethereal structural materiality work in unison to convey an overpowering sense of calm and solace in keeping with the nature of a private retreat.

A Bird's Eye View of the Bank of England

A Bird's Eye View of the Bank of England, London, Bird's eyeview. (1830) Joseph Michael Gandy. Architect: Sir John Soane. Watercolor, 72.4 1130cm; Courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane's Museum. The Bank of England was among Soane's finest commissions and occupied him as well as Gandy for many years. It was the genius of Gandy to complete this astounding image as if the bank were in a state of ruin; thus, succeeding in both explaining the technical aspects of structure and the circulation as well as suceeding at the more challenging feat of bathing the edifice, then nearing completion, in a "classic" lighta parallel to the Romantic views of Piranesi and Robert Adam.

Sir John Soane, Public and Private Buildings

Sir John Soane, Public and Private Buildings. (1818) Joseph Michael Gandy. Watercolor, 72.4cm 129.5cm; Courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane's Museum, London. At once light-hearted and deeply reverential, this unique image provided for Gandy's patron an unparalleled homage; in a single view, his many notable commissions both completed and projected are arranged as miniatures in a vast "Soanean" space. Note again the artist's inspired manipulations of light and scale as well as the image of Soane himself working at a tiny table in the foreground.

Abraham Zachariah. (CA. 1940) Artist/Designer: Achilles G. Rizzoli. Colored ink, 101 cm 140cm; Courtesy of Bonnie Grossman, The Ames Gallery, Berkeley, California. The work of Rizzoli, who labored for years in obscurity to design an ideal citythe YTTE (Yield to Total Elation) which was to be nothing short of Heaven; that is, an actual architecture for the afterliferedolent of Biblical imagery. This enigmatic piece is emblematic of the complexity and intensity of this prolific artists work.

The Chicago; Mile High Building

The Chicago; Mile High Building. (1956) Artist/Designer: Frank Lloyd Wright. Color pencil and gold ink on tracing paper, 61cm 246cm; Courtesy of The Frank Lloyd Wright Archives. Dedicated to, among others, Louis Sullivan, Elisha Otis"Inventor of the upended street" and John Roebling; this colossal design is one of Wright's most grand and, from a structural point of view, most sound (the "atomic powered" elevators notwithstanding), utilizing the tripod shape and tap-root foundation. As an image, it is peerlessa perfect synthesis of aspiration and possibility.

The Odyssey Project

The Odyssey Project. (1996) T.W. Schaller. Architects: F.L. Wright and others. Watercolor, 117cm 140cm; Courtesy of The Otis Elevator Company. Science may finally be able to achieve what Wright envisioned forty years ago. With the evolution of people-moving technology, Wright's comment, ''Mile high? Why stop there?" may no longer seem far-fetched. This image is as much an homage to the man and his imagination as to any tangible possibility.

Monument for Thelma and Louise

Monument for Thelma and Louise. (1993) Tamotsu Yamamoto. Watercolor, 41cm 71.7cm Another austere and haunting image by an artist who, with customary insight and humor, continues to question the viability of architectural "myth-making" within the larger field of "art."

Zoning Envelopes. (1925) Artist/Designer: Hugh Ferriss. Charcoal pencil on paper; Courtesy of The Cooper-Hewitt Museum, The Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Design, New York. American cities' unrelenting race for the sky was curbed a bit in 1916 by the passing of the New York Zoning Law intended to prevent city streets from becoming dark, lifeless caverns. Ferriss' rationalist response to these laws is seen in this series; beginning with a three-dimensional diagram and with considerations of structural viability, he visually "carved" away mass until left with not so much a building but the genesis of a building. One need only study forms, however, such as those of New York's Rockefeller Center to see the direct influence these "studies" had on our cityscapes.

Bridge Habitat

Bridge Habitat (1995) Artist/Designer: Kevin Woest. Pen and ink, 74cm 144cm The concept of a habitable bridge structure is tackled here by New York architect/artist Kevin Woest whose effort has resulted in a beautiful, well-considered, and remarkably feasible solution.

Organic Bridge

Organic Bridge (1995) Artist/Designer: Ernest Burden III. Graphite pencil, 36cm 49cm The very movement implicit in the idea of a bridge itself is captured and explored in this kinetic and accomplished drawing.

Proposal by Raymond Hood: Apartments on Bridge. (1929) Hugh Ferriss. Charcoal pencil; courtesy of A very Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University in the City of New York. The bridge has always been an enduring image for builders and dreamers such as Hood and Ferriss, who devised a plan to utilize the suspension cables of bridges, new and existing, as structural frame works for housing or office space. For these men of vision, the skyscraper was but one image of the future of the American city.

 

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