The Power of the Sketch

By Barron Schimberg, AIA LEED AP

Barron SchimbergWe recently worked on a project with another architect.  He was old school, using sketches and watercolors to express his thoughts and design.  We’re new school, using technology to represent our ideas and accurately portray the space and how the building will look.  We believe that if we show our ideas more true to form, rather than conceptual, we should be better able to sell clients on our visions and services.

So, the other architect and I went back and forth, almost competing for the love of the client.  In true, ego-driven architect fashion, we urged the client to “Pick me! Pick me!”

At a pivotal moment in the design process, we had an opportunity to win over the client.  We chose to represent an interior space in a colored pencil, hand-drawn sketch.  Although technology was used to set up the perspective, we used the power of the sketch to create the rendering.  The client was sold!

Personal, hand-drawn renderings seem to be what clients want. Why is this?

We find that hand-done drawings fire up the client’s imagination, giving them a better sense of what it might actually feel like to live or work in the redesigned space or building.  It makes them feel good, which is what the client wants to experience.

As noted in a previous blog post, actually, all of my projects begin with a sketch. It is the architect’s original tool to allow ideas to flow and creativity to thrive.

I learned to sketch buildings at a semester abroad in Greece.  I was taught how to judge proportion and scale and notice more details in a surrounding environment.

Computer-aided drawings provide an extremely accurate and cost-effective way to plan every detail of how a building will be constructed. But to a person who doesn’t work in construction, that just doesn’t matter.

The graphics shown below are some renderings and sketches we have done in the past.  They have successfully allowed the client to see the project in progress. But they have also been relaxing and enjoyable to draw.

So I am curious: Do you prefer the computer renderings or the sketches? If so, why?

When hiring an architect for your next project, would you like to see hand-drawn sketches along with your renderings? Let me know what you think!




When Pen Meets Paper