Form alone cannot make great architecture.  It requires substance.  Many beautiful designs, expertly describing Classicism or a contextual vernacular, are watered down in today’s construction process.  The tradition from which both professions grew – the art of building – has almost been forgotten.

When designers and builders share their wisdom, they can make new civic buildings to equal the best of antiquity.  Education is key.  This Academy will teach trades apprentices alongside architecture and design students.  Each path to mastering a trade of their choice will be grounded in deep understanding of materials, history, and design theory.  Its graduates will have a holistic knowledge of the building arts, and a shared creative spirit.  True collaboration will yield enduring architecture.

This design is a conceptual framework to guide the planning of Academies around the country.  Its central gallery, the school’s unifying essence, is expressed in the rhythm and proportions of the entire building.  Superimposed over that framework is a nine square plan, a symbol of completeness in every culture.  Each school will express the Academy’s mission through design: celebration of its primary material, centralized forms, and geometry which signifies unity.  Imagine these schools across urban America, providing opportunity for young artisans and designers alike.

This design carries forward the intent of my 2012 undergraduate thesis project.

The following images show the development of this project, from sketches in a journal to hand-drafted watercolors.  I haven’t tried this method since college…the smell of damp Arches paper awakened old terrors.  It takes a leap of faith to bring carefully drawn plans through the rendering stage, soaking them with permanent color as the time to complete everything dwindles.  Digital tools are much more forgiving, but I think the physical process is important.  I felt immersed in my design, through embodying the creative effort.