Architects sketch as part of the process when doing their job … at least I do. There are many different styles and techniques that architects use when graphically working through problems. These sketches are not art, which I expect many people to disagree with but I don’t care, this is one area where I have made up my mind and no argument – however gracefully presented – will change my mind on the subject. They may be artistic and some people may look at these process type sketches and consider them art, but they have a role and information to convey. These are the result of a thought process and once they’ve served their purpose they all go into the trash.
Okay, maybe some go into the project drawer.
I thought I would show some of the sketches I have prepared lately and talk about what I was trying to solve when I prepared the sketch. If I have a style, it would be called the “easy” style because none of these drawings took but a few moments to create.
This is a sketch from project that I am currently working on – the KHouse Modern. We have a covered grilling area in the back that we were concerned would be overly dark. As a study, I put an oculus in the roof (an oculus is a fancy word for a round opening in the ceiling) so light could enter but the areas reserved for cooking would remain protected. I basically wanted to see what sort of shadows the opening would create. This is a print out from a SketchUp study model and I added some pen weight and shading, and some profile lines to help where the section was cut . Since there isn’t a ground plane in my model, that’s why the foundation is casting shadows.
This sketch is also from the KHouse Modern. This was a quick plan study that I prepared so that I could show the client how we could add another bedroom to this one area of the house. I had a copy of the plan taped down on my desk and I put a piece of trace paper over the top and basically sketched on top of the original. Since I will run copies of the sketches I make for the client, I like to use a red colored pencil to shade in the walls. Since these types of drawings get created in a very short amount of time, if you look closely at the plan sketch you can see that I have lines that go through door openings – that’s why I shade the walls.
Also, remember the “Hatchet Bedroom” post? This sketch was the inspiration for that post, it’s important to sketch the furniture into your plans!
This was another sketch directly on top of a bond paper print out. These were notes I was making for myself and for the one of the guys who works in my office. This sketch really was just a thought-process note sketch. Since coming over to the new office, there are certain graphic standards that I am changing and sometimes it’s easier to simply show how we want the CAD file to look like by sketching on top of it. So far, as much as I am starting to love Revit and the things it can do for us, the way it looks graphically out of the box is terrible. I am a big believer that if your drawings look like you cared when you drew them, the contractor will pick up on that when they are working on the project. If you don’t care, why should the contractor (other than the fact they are getting paid to care …)
I don’t sketch on top of lined notebook paper very often but this is what was handy. These are drawings I created when I was asked a question about the window system we were trying to implement on the KHouse Modern. Most of the sketching I do these days is the graphic counterpart to a conversation I am having with one of the junior architects in the office. This is not me sitting down with my thoughts working through a problem … this is me answering a question.
This drawing isn’t even close to being correct but you’d really have to be paying attention to realize what’s wrong … This is a three column assembly and the column that is tilted out is NOT in the same plane as the column shown running vertically. So how is it that there is a bracket between all columns and the horizontally running beam?? These must be “Escher” style columns.
Again, this was a sketch that existed only long enough for me to have a conversation with one of the junior architects … that and for me to take a picture of it.
These last two sketches got me in trouble with all you sharp-eyed folks. This sketch is actually an earlier iteration of the 4th sketch in this post. In this version, the steel is not thermally broken and it was driving me crazy. This is really a diagram of parts to be resolved … pretty sure I would need a header (structure) where the window connects with the roof plane. What I sketched in certainly isn’t correct but since that wasn’t really the point of the this sketch, I don’t really care.
This last sketch is actually the reason why I thought I would write this post. I am currently in Madison, Wisconsin for work and the timing really couldn’t be worse. We are trying to issue the permit drawings for the KHouse Modern and there is a big push to get everything done and I’m not around to answer questions and help solve issues with all the coordination that needs to happen with pulling a permit. in fact, I am sitting here in my hotel room writing this post as the clock gets closer and closer to striking midnight.
At any rate, I was trying to describe a structural detailing issue that we needed to address in the shower where the floor structure drops so that we can have a walk-in shower with no curb. I was trying to verbally talk one the the architectural associates through the situation back on the office, I only had a few minutes before I needed to be down in the lobby and I thought “I’ll do a quick sketch and text it to her.” So that’s what happened – this entire sketch exists just to convey some information on where wood framing would take place. Since I had the sketch digitally on my phone, I thought I would share it on my Life of an Architect Facebook page. Once I did that, I was eviscerated with comments from people telling me ll the things that were wrong with this sketch. People were asking “where’s the waterproofing” and “You need more structure to hold that floor up” and on and on and on. I thought I was just conveying one simple idea but things got weird as soon as I posted it on Facebook … but it also got really kinda cool. A good friend of mine posted that I should take the day off and let Facebook do my redlines. The fact that everyone came out of the woodwork to try to make this detail better is actually amazingly cool – those people rock.
So architects sketch … it’s what we do. If you’re an architect and you don’t sketch, what are you waiting for? These aren’t precious drawings, they are just examples of thinking through issues graphically. Even if you think you can’t draw, this is the sort of sketching that all of us could do. So no more procrastination, no excuses … pull out your Sharpie or your Flair pen and start sketching. The architectural profession needs you to sketch, it’s something that is romantically intrinsic to our profession and we shouldn’t lose it.