Early Drawings by Famous Architects

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By Patrick Sisson / Published by Dwell
Early architectural drawings showcase established architects' creative explorations on paper.

Not surprisingly, the finished structures of architectural practice get all the attention. But often the sketches and random ideas committed to paper are where true innovation occur.

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Daniel Libeskind, V – Horizontal, from the series Chamber Works: Architectural Meditations on Themes from Heraclitus, 1983.

"Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky and the Architectural Association" opens September 12, 2014 at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum at Washington University in St. Louis, and was co-organized with the Rhode Island School of Design. The exhibition showcases educator Alvin Boyarsky's private collection of exploratory and often playful sketches by some of the world’s most influential architects.

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Zaha Hadid, The World (89 Degrees), 1984. Aerial view; compilation of projects to date.

During his influential time teaching at the Architectural Association in London, from 1971 until his passing in 1990, Boyarsky pushed a more international and experimental curriculum, promoting drawing as a means of expression and exploration. The success of alumni from his tenure, including Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid, speak volumes about the influence of his methodology and spirit. 

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Bernard Tschumi, #4 K Series, 1985. Study for La Case Vide: La Villette, Folio VIII, 1985.

"We’re in pursuit of architecture," he once said. "We discuss it boldly, we draw it as well as we can and we exhibit it. We are one of the few institutions in the world that keeps its spirit alive."

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Alex Wall, Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), The Pleasure of Architecture, 1983. Poster based on competition drawings for Parc de la Villette, Paris, 1982–83.

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John Hejduk, Victims, 1986. Taxonomy of structures.

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Peter Wilson, Paradise Bridge, 1986. Plan, section, and isometric projection for unbuilt project.

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Mary Miss, study for Untitled, Bedford Square, London, 1987. Isometric projection.

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Lebbeus Woods, Center for New Technology, Montage 1, 1985.