Technology in & outside of the office… in the world of architecture, much has changed since Millennials came of age in school & early professional practice.  2-D and 3-D computer drafting  applications also came of age and are now standard practice.  This advance in computer hardware and software has upended the way we think about architecture as an aesthetic, both in process and end product.  I was taught hand drafting, both free form sketching and hard lined finished drawings, executed both in pencil and pen (rapidograph).  This connection and discipline of had and eye/brain, forced us to “feel out” the design and design process, constantly quick sketching ideas and overlaying trace paper to evolve and massage the design through many stages.  From my experience, this led to very rich and sophisticated plans, sections and elevations that really made a design “bespoke”.  

The contrast for me, having been a visiting critic at one of our local universities for the final year thesis program, is that the bulk of students today primarily design on the computer in AutoCAD, Revit or other like programs.  The visuals and presentations are very slick but I increasingly find the content to be lacking.  It is as though they came up with a very basic concept, did a few obligatory hand sketch representations of this and then jumped into final drawings that show a thinly veiled layering approach to the project.  I can literally tell when the design has been done this way because it lacks any real sense of both basic strategic substance and no real meaningful details.  

This also extends to the real world in design.  Right now, Philadelphia is going through a residential building boom in many neighborhoods,  But the bulk of the typical single and multi-family dwelling units being designed and built look like faceless mini office buildings with out of whack scale, proportion, detailing and an overall anonymous aesthetic vibe, or lack thereof.  The greatest “contributor” to this is the advent of the computer age… while we cannot deny its efficacy and forever use in the architect’s office, it is not meant for all things.  It is this disconnect of hand to eye/brain that is robbing us of sophisticated building aesthetics.  

Later on, we should discuss this POV and also the connection to build technology in the field of both process and materials to name a few… here are some examples of how we used to design (and build).

Mellor and Meigs drafting room, designed by Mellor and Meigs

Mellor and Meigs drafting room, designed by Mellor and Meigs

... Architect : Rudolph Michael Schindler ...

… Architect : Rudolph Michael Schindler …

 

McKim, Mead, and White, Architectural Firm; Obtained from Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU FreeDocumentation License.

McKim, Mead, and White, Architectural Firm; Obtained from Wikimedia Commons under the terms of the GNU FreeDocumentation License.