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How much do you hate rendering?
by Katy Purviance on 02/17/10 @ 10:34:00 pm
Categories: Observations, Events | 329 words | 1669 views

I just read a review from National Building Museum about an exhibit on early renderings of New England homes.

It was an interesting article until I got to this section…and then I kinda wanted to scream. Or at least throw up a little:

Not until well into the nineteenth century did the majority of American architects, especially in New England, begin frequently to intrude upon the domain of the artist, to project three-dimensional views, or anticipatory presentation perspectives, that became a standard part of their graphic repertory. Furthering their new stature as artists, architects used perspective views as visual aids to their sales pitch. As Benjamin Linfoot put it in 1884, the “architect . . . must keep his client’s enthusiasm alive and active by sending or submitting bright, jaunty little perspectives of his contemplated work.”

Some architects are gifted enough to do their own presentations, which are of course useless as instructions to the builder but useful to persuade the client to build, or—published in the new professional journals—to show off their skills to their peers, but early on there appeared men called “perspectivists” or “renderers,” who specialized in such eye-catching drawings. These renderers existed either in-house, on the staff of one architect, or were itinerant, traveling from office to office, even city to city, to rent their pencils or brushes to any who wanted them. By late in the nineteenth century such views of intended or realized buildings came to exist independently of the construction process. This gave priority to their artistic rather than their utilitarian value. They were exhibited at galleries, museums, and clubs, and published in journals and books, with the drafter’s intention of reaching beyond a specific client to a wider audience.

Oh, Benjamin Linfoot in 1884, if only you knew how this story played out. If only you knew how much time would be spent on making pretty pictures. That’s time taken away from actually designing. And sleep. Boo.

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I am starting a new kind of architecture school. Unlike most architecture schools, you wouldn't have to submit GRE scores or good grades or letters of recommendation. You wouldn't have to put the rest of your life on hold for 3 to 5 years. You wouldn't have to accrue tens of thousands of dollars in debt. At my architecture school, anyone could come for a few weeks and learn how to build a house with their own two hands. My teachers would take skills and concepts from some of these other workshops I've listed above... except classes would be held year-round to make it easy to fit into your schedule. I would have a number of different campuses around the country that would teach building designs appropriate to the local climate. And I need your help. Can you donate land for a campus? Can you dotate books for a library? Can you teach a workshop? Can you provide start-up capital? Let me know.

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