Image in modal.

In May, retrospectives spanning the decades-long careers of two Pritzker Prize–winning architects opened, exploring the ambitions and breadth of their work. At the Centre Pompidou in Paris, a monumental self-portrait is painted of British starchitect Norman Foster. At the Casa da Arquitectura in Portugal, the work of the late Brazilian modernist Paulo Mendes da Rocha offers a more intimate experience. In each, drawings play a prominent role. Below is Foster’s drawing of the Great Court at the British Museum. At top is a sketch by Mendes da Rocha of a private residence. In Foster’s words, “Sketching and drawing has been a way of life for as long as I can remember.” A way of life, perhaps, that is changing dramatically. One can only hope that future retrospectives of a next generation of architects include such gems.

Norman Foster Sketch of Great Court at British Museum.

Norman Foster’s Sketch of Great Court at British Museum. Image © Norman Foster, click to enlarge.

“The line of charcoal, pencil, and pen is an expressive and emotional line . . . Every move, weight, shade, thickness, and velocity of the hand-drawn line carries a particular meaning.”
- Juhani Pallasmaa,
in his book The Thinking Hand: Existential and Embodied Wisdom in Architecture