Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Get your 1920's on.....

Or your Sear's House. Depends on your drawing vocabulary preferences, I suppose. Sears & Roebuck were the largest home builder in early 20th century America with their famous "Houses by Mail". At their high point they employed over 500 architects and draftsmen to keep up with market demand and an ever evolving product line. Their sales catalogs had a very distinctive graphic style with lush entourage and highly romantic, picturesque views with lots of Arts and Crafts influences. They were almost always composite drawings, rarely used elevations or building sections amd always used the plans to compose the lower half of the drawing along with a small sales pitch house descritpion / narrative and beautiful hand drawn graphic fonts. So in the spirit of that exercise...
This is a design development study drawing for an addition and remodeling of a very small, early post-World War One cottage on  Boston's North Shore, in a neighborhood of similarly cute cottage houses with a "plan book" feel. Sometimes you think you've dodged a bullet time-wise by sticking with grey tones for something that's supposed to be quick and timely. Doesn't always turn out that though, but I have always loved composite drawings.
Pencil and Ink on stretched buff tracing paper with ChartPak marker and graphite / Prismacolor pencil washes. And a surprising amount of Sharpie, applied to the reverse side of the drawn image, as always.
Copyright 2017  David Barrett McTyre

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

25 years later.....Part 1

25 years later...a weekend house on Lake Michigan that I designed a quarter of a century ago. It remains completely unchanged in every respect, inside and out, since it was built. It has been beautifully maintained and has grown into its site really well. The design vocabulary is so simple, proportional and elemental that I remember referring to this project as a giant "study model" that actually got built. But it must have worked because I'm still using a more refined version of the same vocabulary on some of my projects to this day. This project was built on a co-operative site with deed protected view corridors towards Lake Michigan for each house. I designed two other houses for the co-op adjacent to this house. Looking for pictures of those on Google and an ancient laptop. This house is the simplest and most restrained of the three but, I think, turned out the best. Would I do something more complex today? Of course. But the principles of design shown here, of embracing simplicity of design and construction as a function of budget and use, of the idea of always taking the "long view" on a project, regardless of cost, will always remain the same.

Over the ensuing years I've learned that designing 20,000+ SF, multi-million dollar houses for robber barons requires a "suspension of moral disbelief" without judgement to get past the hurdles of ethical objection you may always carry with you, just to be able to put a pencil to paper. This house embodies the reasons why, 25 years later, I prefer the challenges and rewards of designing smaller houses.
Built on a limited budget (less than 175K), designed over the course of a weekend with the CD's done over the next two weeks, this is one of the last projects I ever completely designed and drew by hand before AutoCAD began its inevitable ascent up my design food chain.
And I would definitely rethink that deck.
Elevation facing west towards Lake Michigan.
Living Room looking North.

Living Room facing Lake Michigan
View of Living Room from Upper Loft.

View from Rear Yard.
Front Yard looking West

Upstairs Loft facing Living Room & Lake Michigan.
Main Stair

Elevation facing Lake Michigan at night.
Front Lawn at night.

View from road at night.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Presentation Drawings in AutoCAD

Here's a first for this blog. Digital drawings. Presentation drawings, actually. I have many new hand drawings that I will be posting soon but I wanted to stop for a minute and post some rendered presentation drawings that I have recently done in my newly acquired AutoCAD LT2016 software. AutoCAD LT is perfect for the projects that I typically work which are, as a rule, fairly small (i.e.; houses, carriage house, etc.) and since I can draw and visualize fairly well by hand, I don't really need the 3D component that is part and parcel of full blown Revit / AutoCAD. Besides, the reason I think Revit sucks is if you are using it in the preliminary design phase of a project, it forces you to make quantifiable decisions early in the design stage that you're just not ready to make yet. 

All that being said, there are quite a few techniques to use  in creating drawings like this in AutoCAD LT2016. There is no software program that automatically creates the shadows and rendered elements here. What you need to bring to the table is your own graphic vocabulary that was developed based on your understanding of how to draw and present by hand. In other words, things like line weights, gradient shading, foreground and background elements and so forth are things that you will need to figure out for yourself. As if you were drawing by hand. Stop thinking of AutoCAD as BIM and start thinking of it as a set of pens. That is not inconsisent with anything you have learned about layer management. Think of pens as layers (BIM) and pens as pens (drawing representation). They don't have to be mutually exclusive. Take shadowing an elevations as an example. Shadows are simply developed by using the classic plan projection method by hand, you're just using a computer. Use a simple line work hatch pattern (ANSI31) when you you are rendering / applying your shadow hatch. Set the rotation angle to match the angle you are casting your shadows at. Solid and gradient hatches don't stack well on top of each other in lines merge or overwrite mode. So DRAW ORDER and HATCH EDIT  (foreground/background) are going to be very commonly used  commands in managing or manipulating your hatch applications. Gradient hatch patterns (colors 250-255) were used for all of the gradient and solid grey tone rendering shown on these drawings. Gradient tones can be tricky, especially over large areas of the drawing because for gradient tones to work in hatch they almost always need to go on as a single application.

These drawings use a fine presentation level pen & ink vocabulary and compositional drawing techniques that I have developed by hand over many years. And since AutoCAD really hates excessive hatching, you kind of have to trick it sometimes by using a simple hatch pattern and then using hatch edit to change to your gradient pattern. Much less memory intensive that way.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

From Hand Drawing to AutoCAD....

This post is one of a few I am trying to do right now that start to combine drawings produced by hand in the early design phases of a project with their final iterations as AutoCAD design and working drawings and, hopefully, show that they share a common and mutually supportive vocabulary. Perhaps I should start by saying that, blog title notwithstanding, I do almost no working drawings by hand. That would be insane. If you have to share files or submit digitally (and you always do), your using AutoCAD as a bare minimum. Which is what I work with in the digital drawings you will see here. But as I've hinted at less directly in previous posts is that how you work in hand at the beginning becomes the template for the graphic vocabulary you use your in AutoCAD.  There are so many decorative elements like alphabets, entourage and shading, that allow a level of indulgence 
The Project...
This is a set of drawings for a proposed residential project in Denver, Colorado. The program is a complete remodeling and full second floor addition to an existing single story duplex residence in the largely historic Bannock Street neighborhood. The duplex arrangement will remain but be expressed as two urban townhouses with a brick common wall and shared common exterior stair to a roof deck with exceptionally nice mountain views to the west that the main elevation . The first studies shown here explored a more contemporary expression in massing, fenestration and use of materials. The existing common brick building is being treated as a shell with reconfigured exterior openings and a new shared covered porch. Each unit i

Scheme One...
The first few design studies of the front elevation where we were definitely pursuing a less restrained, more contemporary and urban level of expression with all of the major second floor spaces treated as volume spaces capturing dramatic views of the Rocky Mountains to the West. Both of the early schemes have the feature of common rear yard stair access to individual roof decks. With tightly abutting neighbors to the north and south and, as we went along, an increasingly restrictive zoning plane that severely restricted our building height options at the side yard elevations, the flat roof schemes were abandoned fairly early on.  Here, the existing one story building is treated as a neutral base for with the fenestration and new porch organized around the new 2nd floor spaces. 

Scheme Two...
This scheme was the last scheme using flat roofs we looked at before transitioning to the gable roof scheme you will see below. The project is in a neighborhood where the American "Four Square" single family house is the predominant building type typically with either hipped or Arts & Crafts-era gabled roofs. The setback from the sidewalk to the face of the building is about 15 feet so you really don't have a front yard to work with, which I think this scheme responded well to. The building height is only about 28' to the uppermost parapet on the front elevation. The common entrance area kind of changed the project syllabus from a development and sale standpoint (creating condominiums), so the we decided to stay with the expression of side by side "autonomous" townhouses.
The Drawings at this Stage...
All the hand drawings shown in this post are shown literally "on the boards", capturing them as they were still taped down and being worked on. Most of them are developed as hard line pencil & ink drawings on white tracing paper and rendered on both sides of the media with the usually assortment of Prismacolor pencils and lighter ChartPak AD base marker washes.