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Graphic Design for Architects A Manual for Visual Communication, Written and Designed by Karen Lewis | PDF Free Download.
Architects describe their work through drawings, images, and models. Increasingly, architects use other forms of representation to describe their ideas.
Diagrams, information graphics, books, posters, websites, competition boards, and digital presentations are part of an expanded vocabulary of representation techniques.
While the topic of these drawings is architecture, the tools and techniques used to present them are expertise associated with graphic design.
Deep disciplinary knowledge is required to produce architecture; however, additional knowledge from graphic design is necessary to present architecture.
More and more architects are responsible for images that explain the effects of architecture, be they financial, organizational, environmental, or social.
As the architecture profession becomes more specialized, workflow increasingly complex and design expertise further focused, architects, are required to produce a wider range of drawings to explain the impacts of their work.
It is common for architects to produce a broad range of representations to communicate with clients, project consultants, or public constituencies.
The architect’s graphic output is no longer limited to two-dimensional representations of three–dimensional space but also includes drawings of organization, structure, and relationships across building materials, finance, and other consultancies.
These images, prepared by the architect as part of the design process, represent the organization of interrelated decisions.
As architecture expands its reach of visual services, these methods of structuring and organizing space move beyond that of client-designer relationships. The way work is presented graphically communicates the design’s conceptual and intellectual framework.
For example, in the MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program, design teams produce a range of representations to explain their proposal.
Traditional orthographic drawings have been augmented—if not entirely replaced—by renderings, diagrams, and animations. Work is not pinned on the wall cohesively but presented via slide–by–slide presentations of single images and videos.
Recently, too, design teams prepare project books for each juror. The intellectual shift away from traditional drawings towards an expanded vocabulary of representations that include presentations, diagrams, renderings, and books— further two–dimensional representations of an architectural project—has become part of an architect’s spatial strategies.
These expanded representation techniques are foundational to how an architectural proposal is imagined.
The graphic presentation of architecture is not an additional lens of expertise applied to the presentation of work; it is essential to the way architecture is conceived, developed, and projected.
Graphics are not about the addition of further, una¥liated expertise layered upon those of architecture—to do so is anathema—but it is to recognize the relationship between representation and the work itself.
Contemporary representation techniques are imbued within architecture’s spatial and organizational techniques. These comprise the same lineage of spatial structures that guide and shape its development.
Architects—indeed, all professions—need to understand the foundations of graphic design in order to present articulately information. Visual communication is an increasingly significant part of professional communication.
Architects, in particular, can benefit from this knowledge to enhance representation skills, but also to facilitate better relationships with consultants. Every building, landscape, or urban center eventually interacts with graphic designers.
Having knowledge of graphic design’s potential can better position architects to communicate and collaborate with their consultants.
In the same way, architects have engaged a¥liated professions such as structural engineering and landscape architecture, architects can and should foster similar creative collaborations with graphic designers.
Instead of adding graphic designers to the final stages of a building’s construction to add signage, for example, graphic designers should be included much earlier in the design process. To do so allows both the architecture and building graphics to share similar conceptual agendas.
2x4 and OMA’s collaboration at the Illinois Institute of Technology McCormick Tribune Center rested upon a shared intellectual query surrounding perception. Koolhaas’s essay “Junk Space” was first published in ANY 27, which 2x4 designed.
This shared question of visual perception stimulated the building’s graphic treatment. Walls host information, using graphic design as a way to both encode and obfuscate the surface.
At the McCormick Center, the building’s graphics are part of a shared spatial project between the graphic designer and architect. Conversely, architecture without graphic design can produce unintended spatial effects.
Scoggin and Elam’s Knowlton School of Architecture at Ohio State University is a building with clear spatial hierarchies.
However, its unconventional use of ramps, walls, and materials makes navigation confounding for a user accustomed to the spatial strategies of traditional campus buildings.
Users entering the building looking for the main auditorium, Room 250, immediately search for access to the second floor.
Ignoring the spatial cues provided by main volumes and wide ramps directing users to prominent spaces, the unfamiliar visitor immediately proceeds up small, narrow staircases to arrive on the second floor.
At the beginning of every semester, ad hoc signage litters the building walls, attempting to direct visitors towards the main thoroughfares.
These signs are unproductive. Printed (or hand-drawn) on single sheets of white letter-sized paper, the small rectangles disappear within the grey, concrete, 20-foot entry spaces. Located haphazardly, the signs fall out of the user’s view.
As such, these graphic messages do not correlate to the building’s space. Architects do not need to become graphic designers; we need to understand better the expertise and techniques of graphic design.
Expanding our graphic representation skills allows communication with broader audiences, clients, and research collaborators and facilitates disciplinary knowledge across related fields. Architecture also needs to recognize the spatial practice shared with graphic design.
A closer relationship between the two disciplines will enhance the intelligence of both fields. Understanding how architecture is visually spatial, how graphic designers design space,
And how the two disciplines can imbue the other with further intelligence can only increase each discipline’s spatial knowledge.
Architects are not trained as graphic designers and its important for the discipline to recognize its limitations.
But increasing our awareness of graphic design techniques will allow architects to share questions about space, navigation, surface, and perception with graphic designers.
To include graphic design and graphic designers within our discipline expands opportunities for spatial invention.
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