Better with Sun from West

US Embassy Moscow, c. 1976

Carlos Diniz, Embassy of the United States, Moscow, The Commons, c. 1976, DM 2967.2

In an interview architect Charles Edward Bassett, the design lead in SOM’s San Francisco office, was asked by Betty J. Blum how architectural education changed in the US when modernism became accepted in architectural schools and the Beaux-Arts tradition side-lined. What happened when the programme became the paramount driver of architectural creativity? ‘The natural craft of teaching people how to express visually what they were thinking, went down the drain,’ Bassett replied. This is where Carlos Diniz, the architectural illustrator entered. Bassett, turned regularly to Diniz not simply to illustrate a project but to seduce planners and clients through drawing. Diniz’s skill proved crucial in convincing not only the US State Department to green light Bassett’s proposal, but also planners in Moscow. – Tim Abrahams

Stan Allen

On Drawings' Conclusions

Stan Allen, Palazzo Farnese Caprarola, hybrid elevation/perspective, 1979.

The Campo Marzio project had its origins in a series of drawings done as far back as 1979, when I was a student at Cooper Union. The Palazzo Farnese Caprarola drawings represented my first thoughts in a creative reinterpretation of classical plan notations, in this case breaking down the whole into parts. (And of course Caprarola is a pentagon in plan, an early hint of a future obsession.) The Campo Marzio work itself started in 1984. The context here is important: 1986/87, at Princeton under the lingering shadow of Graves, time spent in Moneo’s office in Spain, contrasted with the energy and speculations around Deconstructivism and the show at Moma… all leading to the idea (from Tafuri) that Piranesi represented a radical critique from within of the rationality of classical architecture. Piranesi’s plan offered a series of notations that could be freely interpreted in a way that bridged classicism, late post-modernism and radical modernism... Instead of seeing history as a distant reference employed to legitimate new work, the project worked with a more instrumental idea of history: as material immediately available to the designer today. – Stan Allen

Behind the Lines 3

View of the wall and trees of London Smallpox Hospital

George Coke, Smallpox hospital wall, 1796, DM 1875 IN SET

“I was a bit early, and he – the artist that is – was sitting in the shade, so I stopped and enquired what in heaven’s name he was doing, drawing that old wall and trees, and while I was asking, what was his name and where had he come from. A bit bold, I was, but he took my fancy. Said his name was George Coke, come all the way from Derbyshire – such an amiable lad. Quality linen shirt, I noticed, and spoke very cordially. Would you credit it, he’d fallen for a girl. Cassandra was her name, he said, and she’d got smallpox, died there, just before they closed the hospital and moved up to St Pancras. That must have been two years ago. He said he was drawing the trees that she would have looked out at as she lay dying. I call that morbid, don’t you? Mind you, there are some lovely big trees there – screened off the view of the building with all its inoculations and sickness and goings-on – and he’d done a wondrous likeness of them...” – Philippa Lewis

Drawing Matter
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