Project Term: ongoing

/ Faculty Projects

Architect’s Sketchbook

It’s time for the architect’s sketchbook to step outside of its own discipline, and become part of everyone’s life. You don’t need to be an architect to be carrying your own sketchbook. More people drawing, and out looking, more people pausing, taking stock. Drawing engages the mind and enhances life. Everybody should do it. Architects are trained to see the big picture and the details pretty much all at once. They are typically curious about their surroundings and have a tendency to carry a pad, jot down dimensions, shapes of things. The world is their example, and teacher. But it takes knowing eyes to get the message. 

Taking note, stopping and recording, is what this collection is all about. Drawing, in many forms and contexts, as a way of life, living and earning.

I teach budding architects to draw.  It’s mostly Michigan students considering architecture, but sprinkled throughout are aspiring engineers, planners, musicians, and historians. It’s been over a quarter century yet some questions linger: why draw freehand in a high-tech world? Can sustainable thinking permeate our profession? Do architects need something different, tailored in their fine arts instruction? 

The value in maintaining a drawing practice exceeds mere technical fluency, and invites a more empathetic relationship to designing space. The longer I do it and teach it, the longer the reach of drawing feels. It’s logics relate to sports, to craft, to cooking, driving, even being a good friend. 

If you want to spend less money and be more flexible, take up drawing and carry a sketchbook. Tucked into the margins and book jackets of the architect’s sketchbook is a manual for living, a guide to happiness. 






Melissa Harris

/ Gallery