Most often, architects design with ‘plan as generator’, that is we begin designing a building with the floor plan, and derive all the elevations, sections, and even details from it.
Today, though, is something different. This began as an elevation – what you see above. I was thinking something between Adolf Loos and Irving Gill, with a Richardsonian picturesque quality – a ‘character study’ if you will. A rectangular volume makes up the center with a cubic one stepped down to the right and a smaller cube to the left, with a stair tower at the ‘rear’.
The plan – below – came after, trying to work out precisely how the different squares and modules worked together, playing localized symmetries and forms against one another, and eventually placing a formal parterre garden on the upper level with a pool deck on the lower, while a gravel auto court fleshes out the public side of the property.
Today, a barn, a square, and some fun with drawing projections. If you’ve spent any time looking at my posts, you’ll know that I have a penchant for vernacular architectures, especially the banal agricultural buildings that dot the majority of America’s varied landscapes. The barn is probably the epitome of those forms, and heavy timber framed barns seem to more or less rise from the earth itself.
This particular barn is my interpretation of the timber framed variety, with my love of formal rigor – the square. The plan is a large four-square frame, with a double-wide central ‘nave’ and two single-wide ‘aisles’. Large, folding doors frame the ends, with small punched windows the sides. Since this barn is not intended to be utilitarian, the flooring is gridded black basalt pavers, with two large concrete decks on either end.
The drawings are all halves – the plan is half floor plan, half roof plan; the axonometric is half aerial, half wormseye; the oblique axon is also half & half; the elevation is half the side, half the front.
Linguistics, or the study of language, is today’s topic, expressed in four buildings: On the left, traditional languages are used to express a four square plan (top), and a nine square plan (bottom), with floor plans on the left and ceiling plans on the right. On the right, modernist languages express the same four square (top) and nine (bottom), with symmetrical plans on the left and directionally symmetrical plans on the right – mainly because modernist ceiling plans are far less interesting to draw. . . A section and elevation lie beneath.
Three buildings I saw while driving cross town = three quick elevation studies: A symmetrical hip-roofed house with a long continuous masonry wall that continues to form a low wall on the rear yard; A series of openings on a flat stucco wall, centered on one large square picture window (the jack arches are my own); A square light well lined with industrial sash windows, and a clapboard volume beneath.
I can be terribly repetitive. My sketchbooks will tell you that, where dozens of imperceptibly different iterations of a single project follow one another, page after page. Similarly, when I start down a trail of inquiry I’m soon immersed. And when I start drawing, I go on and on. So is my fascination with Henry Hobson Richardson – and I’ll share three different pieces from my studies: Top, von Herkomer Residence, 1886; Below, Ames Memorial Library, 1877; Bottom, Trinity Church Rectory, 1880.