Sketches from Roma

“Traveling - it leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller.” Battuta

Professor Rodriguez did a very comprehensive job teaching our History of Architecture classes at Virginia Tech back in the day, but nothing compares to standing in front of or inside these architectural giants and studying by drawing. Here are some of the rough travel sketches, mostly exploring scale, form and massing, from our recent trip to Rome.

Our favorite view within the Piazza Del Popolo is of the (seamingly) twin churches Santa Maria di Montesano (left, 1662-75) and Santa Maria dei Miracoli (right, 1675-79) with the ancient Egyptian obelisk centered and Via del Corso starting between the churches.

Our favorite view within the Piazza Del Popolo is of the (seamingly) twin churches Santa Maria di Montesano (left, 1662-75) and Santa Maria dei Miracoli (right, 1675-79) with the ancient Egyptian obelisk centered and Via del Corso starting between the churches.

Closer view of the Santa Maria di Montesano in the Piazza del Popolo; not shown is the Italian street performer next to me singing ‘Sweet Dreams’ by the Eurythmics.

Closer view of the Santa Maria di Montesano in the Piazza del Popolo; not shown is the Italian street performer next to me singing ‘Sweet Dreams’ by the Eurythmics.

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There is a church every turn you make in Rome. San Giacomo in Augusta was next to our hotel and after walking past it for days, we finally peeked in…speechless. Decided to draw the floor plan to convey the mass, construction and robustness.

There is a church every turn you make in Rome. San Giacomo in Augusta was next to our hotel and after walking past it for days, we finally peeked in…speechless. Decided to draw the floor plan to convey the mass, construction and robustness.

Interior of Santa Sabina on Aventine Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome. This sketch was rushed and does not come close to conveying the scale and reverence of this space. May need to sketch this one again.

Interior of Santa Sabina on Aventine Hill, one of the seven hills of Rome. This sketch was rushed and does not come close to conveying the scale and reverence of this space. May need to sketch this one again.

This gives you an idea of scale of Santa Sabina, if the door was this big.

This gives you an idea of scale of Santa Sabina, if the door was this big.

The Ponte dei Quattro Capi bridge is from 62 BC.

The Ponte dei Quattro Capi bridge is from 62 BC.

Historic architecture and fabric was the main focus, but finding Richard Meier’s modern  Ara Pacis Museum  was a highlight.

Historic architecture and fabric was the main focus, but finding Richard Meier’s modern Ara Pacis Museum was a highlight.

Sketchbook 1.0

An architect's sketchbook is many things: a journal, a safe place to work through a design, a travel companion, basically an extension of our brain that we carry in our hand.  Above all else, it is a way for us to document our thoughts and mental images to a tangible reality.  The presence of technology in every nearly facet of our lives [computer renderings, BIM, emails instead of phone calls, even our grocery list is an app] makes it even more important for us to ground ourselves by putting pen to paper regularly.  Our sketchbooks aren't perfect - there are a lot of scribbles, notes, emerging and discarded design ideas, fingerprints, ink smudges - but perhaps that makes it better. There is a "realness" inside a sketchbook; an intimate look at process or a moment in time. 

This excerpt from the Sketchbook Curator Blog sums it up perfectly.  

"It’s often the physical act of drawing that artists get inspiration from. It’s the openness of a blank page that gives all the freedom for the artist to draw, paint, paste, and damage. It’s those papers bound together that gives perhaps the disconnected, random sketches a sequence, narrative, or an identity as a whole. Sketchbook, either as private or public entity, is a space of freedom and expression for any artist; it is their companion and reflection of their identity."
Stack of sketchbooks in the RDA studio

Stack of sketchbooks in the RDA studio

One of many layout sketches of competition boards circa 1993, Virginia Tech.

One of many layout sketches of competition boards circa 1993, Virginia Tech.

Travel Sketch, Savannah, GA 2008

Travel Sketch, Savannah, GA 2008

Sketching the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC was a reflective way to acknowledge the dark happenings of our city and pay respect. 

Sketching the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC was a reflective way to acknowledge the dark happenings of our city and pay respect.