• What is Stirling’s signature line?

    What is Stirling's signature line?
    atlanta GEORGIA

    Georgia Tech College of Architecture, “Infamous Lines” seminar
    critic: Volkan ALKANOGLU

    suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.

    Kasia ZYCINSKA: Stirling thought of hand drawing of conceptual studies and schemes playing an essential role in the development of his projects. He utilized two means of producing drawings: lead to render spatial relationships and color pencil to express materiality. An isometric, and perspectival projections became an important method of architectural representation for Stirling, not only as a presentation technique, but a design method.

    Deliberately hard, spare, restrained and scientific in character, meticulously to scale and as accurate as hand and eye can make them . . . the absolute minimum necessary to convey the maximum amount of useful information(1)—Stirling described his projections.

    Florey Building (1966-71) //

    The architect would often isolate a specific portion of a building and represent it as a three-dimensional composition viewed either from above or below. This method of representation allowed him to express how the singular parts work together to create a larger whole—a simultaneous visualization of function and structure: “the spaces, surfaces, and volumes of a design in a single image which has no distortion and gives and accurate reading of a building.”(2) Breaking up a building into discrete parts allowed Stirling to explore relationships between volumes and voids, and articulation of program as a series semi-autonomous pieces.

    The presented drawing sets feature Stirling’s iconic worm’s eye view isometric projections and analyze them in terms of how Stirling utilized this drawing mode — to express how discrete programmatic and structural components work together — as well as how physically the drawing was produced with the parallel bar — in sequence of lines of specific direction.

    The exploration of Stirling’s signature graphic representation strives to isolate Stirling’s signature line: the curve juxtaposed agains a straight line. The specific proportions of Stirling’s curves create incredibly compelling compositions. Infused with program and structure, the two dimensional lines enable emergence of equally compelling spaces that can be inhabited. These specific curvatures represent freed, ribbon-like curtain glass walls spanning around rigid cores inclosing semi-private spaces of civic nature.

    The iconic curve of Stirling’s glazing emerges from two composite curves: one derived from tangent circles with one of a radius twice in size then the other and second – with two circles of specific proportions pulled apart by tripling the R distance.

    (1) Stirling James. “Writings on Architecture.” Milan: Sikra, 1998.
    (2) Michael Wiflord. “Introduction.” James Stirling, Michael Wilford and Associates: Buildings and Projects 1975-1992.


    Georgia Tech | Infamous Lines Seminar |

    The seminar “Infamous Lines” is interested in projective discoveries through the production of drawing. As architects, we draw lines for notions of aesthetic, concept, as well as communication. Frank Gehry states drawing as “a matter of hand-eye coordination”, “regardless if produced by a pen or mouse”. Every drawing however carries a signature, repetition, reference, or authenticity. Can we read between the lines and discover the intended, or unintended concepts of the author? Can we evaluate a relationship between lines and design ideologies?

    Within this framework, students are researching seminal architects such as James Sterling, Philip Johnson, and Cedric Price, who have subconsciously left behind a rich pile of lines to sort through. Students are specifically analyzing orthographic drawings (plan and section) in a search for potential “signature
    lines” which might lead to a broader conceptual framework. Collectively, the seminar will project a critical voice about contemporary lines and what this might mean in an age of digital drawings. Will the Infamous Lines of the past continue forward or will “future signatures” become much more anonymous?

    This process of analysis ranges from cataloging, reading, and re-drawing the lines to more projective thinking such as configuring taxonomies, analysis of curvature, and geometric annotation. The seminar is still ongoing, but some discoveries students have already made include the immediate relationship of Hejduk’s House of the Suicide and Villa Savoye, or Enric Miralles’s Igualada Cemetery parti lines match the plan of the Casa Garau.

    The upcoming Drawing Summit at Georgia Tech (February 16th, 2013) featuring Preston Scott Cohen, Dora Epstein Jones and George b. Johnston, is developed through the seminar and structured around the goal of developing an understanding of line assemblies and their theoretical framework. We are interested in reading line drawings again in order to discover an imbedded conceptual ideology of design beyond technique.

    How thick did Aldo Rossi draw? Why did Jan Kaplicky refuse to pencil a straight line? Are Neil Denari’s curves similar to Claude Parent’s? Why do line weights not matter for Kazuyo Sejima? Is John Hejduk’s piano curve considered geometry or language? And did Enric Miralles really dress-up to make a drawing?

    Seminar participants:
    Eric Esposito
    Sara Frederick
    Yi He
    Ahra Koh
    Anne McCarthy
    Dana McClure
    Zachary Porter
    Shota Vashakmadze
    Sean Wilson
    Kasia Zycinska

    Volkan Alkanoglu

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