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Architectural Drawings

Sketches, Renderings, and Architectural Drawings by Famous Architects

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Long before construction begins, architects sketch their visions. From casual pen and ink doodles to intricate architectural drawings, a concept emerges. Elevation drawings, section drawings, and detailed plans used to be painstakingly hand-drawn by apprentices and interns. CAD software has changed all that. This sampling of architectural drawings and project sketches, from famous structures to visionary structures that were never built, shows how far the architect's task of visualizing an idea has come.

1. Pedestal for the Statue of Liberty

An early sketch for the Statue of Liberty's pedestal shows a solid, fortress-like design.
Early sketch courtesy of the National Park Service, Statue of Liberty National Monument

Richard Morris Hunt
The Statue of Liberty was made in France and shipped over to the United States, but the design and construction of Lady Liberty's pedestal has its own history.

More: Teaching with Architectural Drawings and Photographs by Stacie Moats, Library of Congress, December 20, 2011

2. Gordon Strong Automobile Objective and Planetarium

Gordon Strong Automobile Objective and Planetarium in Sugarloaf Mountain, Maryland
FLLW FDN #2505.039 © 2009 Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation
Frank Lloyd Wright
For this ambitious project, Frank Lloyd Wright drew a spiralling roadway that mimicked the shape of the mountain. His client, Gordon Strong, rejected the plans, but the architectural drawing reveals Frank Lloyd Wright's early experiments with hemicycle forms.

3. World Trade Center Tower 2

Architect's Sketch
Image: Foster and Partners, courtesy Silverstein Properties
Foster and Partners
The World Trade Center architects imagined four blocks of light-filled, column-free floors centered around a central core.

4. World Trade Center Tower 4

Architect's Sketch
Image: RRP, Team Macarie, courtesy of Silverstein Properties
Fumihiko Maki and Maki and Associates
This architect's sketch envisions a skyscraper completing the spiral composition of the four towers in the new World Trade Center Complex.

5. Minnesota State Capitol

Early rendering for the Minnesota State Capitol by Cass Gilbert
ArtToday.com
Cass Gilbert
In this early architectural rendering, Cass Gilbert imagined a vast domed structure modeled after Saint Peter's in Rome.

6. Lloyd's of London

Richard Rogers' rendering of the Lloyd's of London building.
Courtesy Richard Rogers Partnership
Richard Rogers Partnership
The architect drew detailed section drawings for a skyscraper with with bright, light-filled spaces.

7. The Burberry Line

Pencil and colored pencil
© Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, permission of Portland Museum of Art
Frank Lloyd Wright
Through his drawings, architect Frank Lloyd Wright proposed a Burberry Line of modular furnishings that could be arranged in a variety of configurations.

8. The Marika-Alderton House

The Marika-Alderton House by Glenn Murcutt
Sketch © Glenn Murcutt, courtesy the Pritzker Prize Committee
Glenn Murcutt
Australian architect Glenn Murcutt combined his own creative vision with Aboriginal ideas, sketching a long, low house with flexible shutters and natural ventilation.

9. The Senedd, National Assembly for Wales

Exploded axonometric drawing of the National Assembly for Wales.
Courtesy Richard Rogers Partnership
Richard Rogers Partnership
These sketches by Richard Rogers illustrate the roof funnels and other energy-efficient designs at the Senedd, home of the National Assembly for Wales.

10. Transportation Hub at the New York World Trade Center

Rendering design of WTC Transportation Hub, 2005
Illustration of Transportation Hub ©2005 by Santiago Calatrava SA via Getty Images

Santiago Calatrava
The computer renderings of Calatrava rival the photographs of his actual architecture. Computer-driven architecture can be detailed and extravagant. The Transportation Hub designed for the World Trade Center reconstruction is all this—and expensive.

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