Drawing Class

April 20th 2017 Comments: 2 Topics: , ,


Today, Chris Tippett continues our series on hand drawing.

David Baker, Mary Catherine Walter and I were fortunate to spend a few days at The University of Notre Dame’s Architectural Career Fair, our third journey to this event. Why Notre Dame? In addition to drawing platforms such as CAD and SketchUp, they still foundationally teach hand-drafting and watercolor rendering with a focus on Classical Architecture. We keep coming back because of the students. Every year we are more impressed with the students’ intelligence and talent as drawers, artists, and designers. We feel this is directly related to Notre Dame’s emphasis on drawing by hand and the study of the principles of Classical Architecture.

A design begins as an idea, as a feeling if you will, by its very nature it is full of emotion and passion. Almost every design begins with a hand sketch attempting to capture that feeling or idea. It is full of gesture and there is power and meaning in every line. The most natural way to develop and convey this idea and emotion is through the human hand. That is the reason we still produce all of our presentations by hand. The pencil drawings are tactical, evocative, and they elicit an emotional response from our clients. Clients appreciate the time and affection for the work that is required to produce the drawings. A house is an intensely personal thing so, the medium in which the design is presented should embrace the intimacy of that invitation; we feel this is best accomplished in the humility and character of a hand drawing.

The foundation on which we build our designs can be found in the essential elements of Classical Architecture: proportion, scale, rhythm, axis, symmetry, sequencing of spaces and math. We use these building blocks every day. These principles are applicable to any design problem, be it a bank, multi-family housing, a modern pavilion or a cabin in the woods. These tools give you a starting point and frame of reference throughout the design process. They are not relics from the past; they are just as relevant today as they have been throughout time.

It is inspiring to see these ideals being embraced by this prestigious University and by those who attend the Richard H. Driehaus Awards in Chicago following the Career Fair. It was wonderful to meet so many exceptional people from all over the world united in one vision. The generosity of Richard Driehaus in sponsoring these architectural awards for fifteen years speaks to his passion for the pursuit of good architecture. After this weekend in Chicago and at Notre Dame, I find myself almost giddy and rejuvenated by our encounters as I look forward to the future of architecture.


Chris Tippett

Bobby McAlpine sketching a new house.

(Photo by Erica George Dines)

 The finished presentation. Rendering by David Braly.

Mary Catherine Walter’s custom Notre Dame logo for her thesis.

Mary Catherine, David and Chris with our former interns from Notre Dame, Kate Chambers and Maureen Brown, at the Driehaus Awards in Chicago.


  1. I believe that working under supervision of one of the most experienced Model making in UAE and to assure every model with sophisticated, high quality and durability is important these days. Although very well article.

  2. Daniel Whitaker says:

    …Refreshing article – the “giddy” sense translated well.

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