As an architecture student, working in the archive allows me to think back 30 or 40 years when hand drafting skills determined one’s worth as an architect. While sifting through rolls of bluelines and sepia prints, pink from chemical decay and red from revisions, I occasionally find architectural treasures. This semester I have been working primarily on drawings from Bill Hersey and John Kyrk, two draftsmen who worked for Charles Moore.
One note scribbled in the margin of one of the drawings eloquently stated Hersey’s view on hand drafting:
In Hersey’s day, drafting was completely different than today’s digital modeling tools. While architects now can whip out a complex form and look at it from every angle, hand draftsmen worked line by line on a single perspective. Slower, yes, but with it’s own benefits, not to mention the romantic zen of hand drafting. When you draw with pencil on paper, the image suddenly emerges from a series of smaller decisions, like a connect-the-dots for adults. 3D modeling simply cannot capture the same process of intuition and discovery. While software is powerful, it lacks nuance and character and tempts designers to limit their focus to what fits on screen. Not that digital software doesn’t have creative value, just not likely the kind that will make future archivists drool.