McGill University (Meredith)



Apr '10 - Jul '10

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    Hand Drawing Is Not Dead.

    By Meredith
    Jun 14, '10 11:10 PM EST

    Since the dawn of the computer, there has been much discussion about the future of hand drawing in architecture. While it is inevitable that hand-drafting will go the way of the dinosaur (in fact, it probably already has), I believe drawing by hand will continue to play a role in the architecture studio. Certainly, this is what we are taught at McGill.

    McGill's School of Architecture has a policy that can essentially be summed up as "no computers in first year". While this is not exactly true (we use Photoshop, InDesign and of course MS Office), we are not taught any computer drafting/modeling software until second year. Although some students did sneakily use SketchUp and even AutoCAD to help with some of the assignments, all our drafting was to be done by hand.

    I love hand drafting. I was first introduced in grade nine. In our Introduction to Technology class (aka wood-shop), we used to have to draw top- and side-elevations of three-dimensional wood models. Our teacher was quick to point out any 'peccadilloes.'

    Oh, how I wish firms were still hiring old-fashioned draftsmen. The satisfying clunk as you push your t-square against the board, or the swish of the parallel ruler. Sadly the speed and efficiency of the computer age is upon us, and upon me starting next year. Hand drawing will continue to play an important role in design and analysis, but there will no longer be enough time to complete the required plans, sections and elevations by hand.

    Here is a collection of drawings completed during my first term at McGill:

    Side elevation of my birdcage model (to be later explained).

    And the bird that goes with it.

    Part of a section through one of the engineering buildings.

    Axionometric of the wire-frame formed by sections/plan.

    One of three drawings exploring a space as described in a text.



    • Larchinect

      Nice work.

      Before I went to school for Landscape Architecture I did and Associates program in Architectural Drafting at a community college. We started drafting by hand with maylines, triangles, and mechanical pencils. I think it had a great affect on my hand drawing and the way I think about design later on.

      Don't know if I can post images here..

      Jun 16, 10 10:53 am

      Oops, sorry about the huge one.

      Jun 16, 10 10:54 am

      I'd love to be able to sketch in perspective. We learned how to construct them technically in second semester, but I guess it only comes with practice!

      Jun 16, 10 3:07 pm

      Hand drawing is definitely not dead at my school (VT).

      Jun 18, 10 11:30 am

      Hand drawing (everything) is definitely not dead at my school (VT).

      Jun 18, 10 11:31 am

      Wow! Nice sketches Meredith. I'm also fearing the same for my hand drawing... I just finished first year at Carleton U and hand drafting is encouraged in our program throughout the 4 years of the program, actually. But many people are switching to computers. And now that I'm beginning to grasp AutoCAD and Sketchup, I can say that its efficiency is really pleasing...
      But there is room for overlap. Drawing over printed digital work is seen in a lot of projects. And it's very effective. I wish i could show you what I mean... but I don't have any pics.

      Btw, did you guys have to read Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino this year? Was that the text you had to illustrate?

      Jun 22, 10 1:01 pm

      tennessee prescribes hand drawings as the best medicine

      Jun 22, 10 11:53 pm

      For the past ten years we at the Ecosa Institute ( taken the position that hand drawing and drafting are key to developing a mind hand/connection that enhances an understanding of the tactile nature of the design process. We have had many architects, both students and practicing, participate in our program and they all express how valuable it is. They all mention that they were neither taught or encouraged to hand draw. I am glad to see that some schools are still engaging students in the ability to sketch and draw.

      Jun 25, 10 11:11 am


      Hi Meredith, do you have any advice for the McGill portfolio requirement?

      Jun 27, 10 8:21 pm

      @ trendyscarf
      We did have to read Invisible Cities, but for a different class. The text we had to illustrate was from "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles" by Haruki Murakami.

      @ i3aht
      Sorry for not seeing your comment until now! I will message you something, I hope it is not too late.

      Jul 21, 10 10:18 am

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