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Do you really need to have good drawing ability to be an architect?

Jda2k3Jda2k3 Posts: 23Registered User New Member
edited February 2007 in Architecture Major
I am a pretty poor artist and I was reading about architecture and it mentioned that you had to be able to draw... is this true?


Also, how difficult is the math for an undergrad in architecture?
Post edited by Jda2k3 on

Replies to: Do you really need to have good drawing ability to be an architect?

  • archi37archi37 Posts: 35Registered User Junior Member
    I can't draw AT ALL. But I am intent to be an architect.

    Well, I think that being an architect requires creativity more than artistic skills. A lot of people can draw, but not many of them have innate talents/incredible creativity. However, I do think that one should have some basic drawing skills.
  • sashimi46sashimi46 Posts: 482Registered User Member
    you don't have to be able to draw realistically in the artist sense to be a good architect. architects draw in order to communicate...so most of their drawings take like 2-3 seconds to draw. look at le corbusier's drawings...they look like a child's drawings but they show a lot.

    in the profession, the architect draws for himself or herself and sometimes to explain something to the client. everything else is done on the computer these days.

    the math for undergrad is not difficult. for me, i don't even have to take math the whole 5 years because i already took calculus in high school. most of the math you use is basic calculus.
  • cheerscheers Posts: 5,163Registered User Senior Member
    If you can't draw and you want to be an architect, the correct answer is "I am learning to draw."

    You must be able to draw your ideas. Constant drawing develops your spatial ability. Architects 'see' what they intend to build by virtue of their drawings.

    The drawings don't have to be 'illustrations' but they must act as pieces of communication. Of the two best artists in my class, one taught himself to draw after the age of 19. His architecture drawings have been published in academic presses.

    Drawing is 90% practice and 10% talent. Learn to draw. Full stop.
  • AlanArchAlanArch Posts: 161Registered User Junior Member
    I will second Sashimi and Cheers. Drawing is a communication tool. As such, it is extremely useful to communicate to others and yourself. Cheers is absolutley correct that it is all about practice. My one regret in architecture school is that because I transferred schools I managed to avoid the drawing requirements. Classmates had to do 30 sketches a week and if you only did 25, you owed 5. This looked like a lot of work. I should have done it. If you are in high school, start now.
  • soozievtsoozievt Posts: 29,152Registered User, ! Senior Member
    I don't want to derail the convo about drawing but have a question for sashimi that came up in post #3. Forgive me, but I can't tell if you are an undergrad now, a grad student, in a BA, BArch, MArch, etc. But you were saying you don't have to take math because of Calculus in HS. My daughter is in an undergraduate BA in Arch Studies and will be applying to MArch programs. Many have math requirements for admissions. She took both AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC for two years in HS and scored well on the AP exams. She wasn't sure if she still needed to take math in college for Arch Grad school admissions or if the AP Calc credits would count for that requirement. She plans to eventually ask the graduate schools. She is currently a junior in college and so if she had to take math again, she would next year as a senior but would prefer to not use up course options for math if she didn't have to. The math courses in college would even be much of the same material. I realize she plans to check with the grad schools but since YOU brought up your Calculus in HS and said you didn't need to take it in college and I don't know what sort of program you are in, do you have any idea if someone has two AP credits in Calc if they must take any more math IN college in order to apply to MArch programs? Thanks if you happen to know. Your post caught my eye as this is something she plans to look into.

    (as far as drawing goes, my D is psyched because she is taking drawing independent study this semester and has one on one time with drawing professor each week....I agree with others that it is important to practice and learn to draw freehand, even if you can do arch drawing and computerized design)


    EDIT...Sashimi....upon reading more, I think you are in the BArch program at Cornell, right? So, you don't have to take math there if you had the AP credits. I don't know if that also applies to grad school admissions or not. That's my question.
  • sashimi46sashimi46 Posts: 482Registered User Member
    soozievt,

    typically grad schools assume that you've had a general education (which included math beforehand) so they are typically focused on the specific major. the cornell arch grad program has no math requirement but the students there take structure courses so the school already assumes that they've already had math experience beforehand.

    and yeah, i'm currently in cornell's b.arch program. the B.Arch program requires one semester of calculus but most students have already placed that out.
  • soozievtsoozievt Posts: 29,152Registered User, ! Senior Member
    Sashimi....yes, but some of the grad schools list math and physics requirements for ADMISSION and so she wants to make sure that her AP math counts for the math or if she'd have to take it IN college for grad school admission requirement at some of the MArch programs. That's my question. Her college doesn't have math gen. ed. requirements. In fact, she goes to Brown which has an open curriculum and no math requirements of its own.

    Good luck to you at Cornell. We visited your program back in high school and my daughter liked it but decided to only apply to 4+2 type programs as that is the path that suits what she wanted to do. She'll be applying to grad school.

    Thanks for your reply.
  • larationalistlarationalist Posts: 916Registered User Member
    soozie- I know several people who are applying for M.Archs right now in the same situation. Have her call the schools she's most interested in and ask them directly, because there isn't one uniform policy on the matter. Some will admit with it as a pre-requisite, and let the student fulfill it at a cheap community college over the summer, while others want it for admission, and a few of the less technical programs will accept the AP credit.
  • soozievtsoozievt Posts: 29,152Registered User, ! Senior Member
    larationalist, she is definitely planning to call the grad schools about this to be sure so that she doesn't take math next year for nothing (has no other reason to take it) or takes it because they recommend it even though she has the two years of Calculus AP credit. I was just asking after reading sashimi's post. I know my D will check into it before picking courses for next year. She is still a junior in college. Thanks for all the information you shared, however! I'm sure I'll have questions when the time comes. She hasn't truly begun that process yet.
  • cheerscheers Posts: 5,163Registered User Senior Member
    One of the most important skills that finally determines if an architect is a talented designer is the ability to think about, draw, talk about, design and imagine space in three dimensions.

    When finely tuned, this ability will have a zoom lense on it. A great architect will apply that spatial imagination to tiny details such as how waterproofing will wrap around a balcony rail post which is submerged beneath the tile or they can apply that spatial imagination to how a 25 storey tower looks in the existing urban fabric.

    Spatial ability continues to develop for some architects which is why so many good architects are 50+. My ability started at less than zero. Though I could always draw anything, I could not absorb the idea of scaled drawings for the first year of architecture school. From that first step however, my spatial sense has risen to extraordinary heights.

    I imagine three dimensions better than any client and most engineers, but I also imagine three dimensions much faster than many architects. Le Corbusier wrote about an out-of-body experience during which he saw into the fourth dimension. That hasn't happened to me yet--but I'm still young. ;)

    In any event, the ability to imagine space is improved by drawing it--abstractly or literally--again and again and again--until you can do it with your mind. If you want to be an architect who gets to design buildings--teach yourself how to draw.
  • archie101archie101 Posts: 27Registered User New Member
    i think the answer to the OP's question is you need to draw. I mean if you're in architecture you will be required to draw. But, if you can't draw yet, you can learn. You also need to design and build models and be computer literate. I think, at least to a certain extent, these things can all be learned also.

    Cheers, thanks for another extremely insightful comment. Can you recall where you read the Corbusier article? It sounds pretty interesting.
  • cheerscheers Posts: 5,163Registered User Senior Member
    Ver Une Architecture ?
    The evaporation of object into sensation
    and the aura-like atmosphere
    that resulted from this transformation
    were recurrent themes in Le Corbusier’s
    work, and as early as 1946 he
    labeled it “l'espace indicible”—“ineffable
    space”—and offered it as a progressive
    mode of architecture for the postwar,
    electronic era. Le Corbusier defined
    ineffable space as a “vibration” between
    the “action of the work (architecture,
    statue, or painting)” and the
    “reaction of the setting: the walls of
    the room, the public squares . . . the
    landscape,” comparing this vibration
    to “the ‘magnification’ of space”
    achieved by Cubists around 1910.18 It
    is, he said, the equivalent of their
    fourth dimensionthe “moment of
    limitless escape evoked by an exceptionally
    just consonance of the plastic
    means employed.” Such evocation results
    not from the subject but from the
    proportions of the work, and its reception
    is dependent on the cultivated intuition—“
    that miraculous catalyst of
    acquired, assimilated, even forgotten
    wisdom”—of those who would receive
    it. For each work contains within it
    “hidden masses of implications . . . a
    veritable world which reveals itself to
    those whom it may concern.” Only after
    couching his treatise in such language
    did Le Corbusier return to
    architectural aspects, writing: “Then a
    boundless depth opens up, effaces the
    walls, drives away contingent presences,
    accomplishes the miracle of ineffable
    space.”
    Unlike the “terrifying
    abyss” that confronted Kandinsky with
    the disappearance of the object, the
    experience of ineffable space is, for Le
    Corbusier, a transcendent event. One
    crosses a threshold, enters a new
    realm, passes through the looking
    glass. “I am not conscious of the miracle
    of faith,” he wrote in conclusion,
    “but I often live that of ineffable space,
    the consummation of plastic emotion.”
    Thus space and the spiritual are equated.
    http://www.gsd.harvard.edu/research/publications/affiliated_publications/hdm/back_issues/6naegele.pdf

    Le Corbusier's career track-- from traditionalist (briefly) to formal purist to daring sculptor--from residential architect to innovative monument maker--is worth close study. Widely imitated by Gwathmey, Eisenman, Venturi, Stern, Graves, Meier and Gehry, Le Corbuseir's career path is a good model for many modern architects.

    There are pitfalls. It is difficult to get out of residential architecture but a young architect starting a practice gets better exposure to rich material in resdiential architecture--so starting a practice with residential makes sense. A great number of architects never rise to the next level of scale however.

    It is difficult to leave the comfort of modern formalism, an easy system to imitate and manipulate. Meier, Eisenman and Gwathmey never evolved into sculptors. Stern fell in love with traditional building methods.

    But Gehry, who did the absolute minimum in the formal and traditional preiods (!)--turns out to have the career most like Le Corbusier's. In his dottage, he is ripping it up.
  • laldmlaldm Posts: 101Registered User Junior Member
    The math classes architects take, at least at my school, are pretty pathetic. One semester of watered-down geometry, and another of watered-down Calculus I. And people still failed. You don't have to be great at math...most architects aren't.
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