Architecture of Imagination

Architectural digest

Primalimse. (cA. 1940) Artist/Designer: Achilles G. Rizzoli. Colored ink, 210cm 101cm; Courtesy of Bonnie Grossman and The Ames Gallery, Berkeley, California. Time and again, this artist achieved more than a response to or representation of an inspiration he excelled in painting inspiration itself. This strange and aptly titled work is altogether "divine," as if having very little connection to earthly concerns despite the implied materiality of its expressive elements.

The Arcbitect's Dream

The Arcbitect's Dream. (1840) Thomas Cole. Oil on canvas, 134.6cm 213.5cm; Courtesy of The Toledo Museum of Art. Cole's historical allegories were often intended, in his words, as "a higher style of landscape," divergent from his earlier pastoral or Arcadian wilderness scenes. In these later compositions, architectural elements were often employed as elements of mythic-narrative significance; embodiments of Cole's belief in the responsibility of art to respond to an elevated moral code.

Interior Court

Design for Die Zauberflote-The Magic Flute: Interior Court, Temple of the Sun with the Statue of Osiris, Act II Final Scene. (1816) Artist/Designer: Karl Friedrich Schinkel. Body color over pen and brown ink, 54.2cm 62.5cm; Courtesy of Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. Schinkel's monumental set designs for a new production of Mozart's 18th-century masterwork were a tremendous success. Reflecting the classical influence of Gilly, the designs (as did the music itself) explored the struggle between darkness and light. These images also reveal a remarkable sense of depth and dramatic warm/cool color shifts in an exotic neoEgyptian format.

Cathedral of Liverpool

Cathedral of Liverpool. (1929) Cyril Arthur Farey, (18881954). Architects: Sir Edwin Lutyens. Watercolor, 80.0cm 108.0cm; Courtesy of Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool. One of Farey's very finest watercolor perspectives, this image succeeds in capturing both the grace and the palpable sense of strength contained in this brilliant design. The graphic results of the collaboration between two artists such as Lutyens and Farey, working at the height of their powers, are convincing in the extreme. Interestingly, the individual and collective process- oriented images of these two men are the only tangible record we have of this outstanding unbuilt design, demonstrating that architecture need not be built to be "real."

Bird's-Eye View of Villa Savoye, from LeCorbusier and Pierre Jeannerette

Bird's-Eye View of Villa Savoye, from LeCorbusier and Pierre Jeannerette. (Oeurve Complete De 19101929, 6th Ed]. 1956) Artist/Designer: Le Corbusier. (Charles-Edouard Jeannerette, 18871966). Offset lithograph, 14.2cm 16.0cm; Reprinted by permission of Centre d'Architecture Canadien/Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. This rather minimalist drawing from the great architect's own hand depicts one of his most legendary designs; then under construction. It is felt that Le Corbusier believed that the concept of a building outweighed in importance its realization. So his drawings often, as is the case here, preserve the strict purity of his ideas more than do the actual buildings which may have resulted.

Dominus Winery, California

Dominus Winery, California. (1988) Artist/Designer: I.M. Pei. Pen on tracing paper, 58.5cm 93.6cm; Courtesy of T.W. Schaller. Executed in fluid line over a constructed perspective view set up, this piece succinctly shows the architect's thinking on the importance, in this specific case, of design becoming an effective amalgam of structural and site/landscape concerns.

Preliminary Sketch for the Walter Drexler House

Preliminary Sketch for the Walter Drexler House, Jena, Germany: Perspective View and Plan. (1925) Artist/Designer: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (18861969). Graphite on tracing paper, 20.9cm 30.3cm; Courtesy of Centre d'Architecture Canadien/Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal. Van der Rohe wrote in 1953 that architecture "depends on its time" and also that when "technology reaches its real fulfillment, it transcends into architecture." Yet, the great "artist/engineer" is concisely represented, before the computer age, in this economical, very "analog" sketch which embodies many of his recurring design precepts; for example, interlocking volumes and sliding planesa modernist integration of object and space. It is fascinating to imagine how he might work today.


Various Sketch Studies for a Developmental Design. Artist/Designer: Cesar Pelli. Though Mr. Pelli writes that he does not "normally work with sketches, but with models, to conceive or develop architectural direction," he does claim to have become fascinated with his drawings of this recurring and highly sculptural multi building form concept. This series of Pelli's sketches demonstrates the historic genesis of a design, the sketch used as a record of design inspiration and evolution. The concept has now been adapted to a major commission under construction; the NTT project in Tokyo, Japan, is nearing its completion.


Preliminary Study for the Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool. (1929) Artist/Designer: Sir Edwin Lutyens (18691944). Pencil and brown crayon on a sheet from his "virgin" pad, 13cm 20.5cm; Courtesy of The British Architectural Library, RIBA, London. His recurring vocabulary of a high central arch flanked by two lower arches was evident in Lutyen's direct and lively perspective drawings for this wonderful but, except for the crypt and foundation, sadly unrealized structure. Fortunately, an invaluable wealth of his process-works remains.


IGA Island 2003 Master Plan Competition: Blue/Green Metamorphosis, Dresden, Germany. (1995) Artist/Designer: James Wines, SITE. Pen, ink, and color. "The inspirational forces," writes Wines, "that have shaped architecture, landscape architecture and urban planning for the past eight yearsand continue to influence the present have their roots in the early Machine Age. Today . . . the most relevant sources of ideas in the building arts will be increasingly drawn from that 'ultimate machine,' the earth itself. This proposal addresses the mutable and cyclical nature of birth, death and resurrection, which defines all forms of life and specifically, this great re-emerging German city."

Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Building

Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Building, Chattanooga, Tennessee. (1994) Artist/Designer: James Wines, SITE. Pen, ink, and color.

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