18. Rapidograph and Hand Drawing

How to unclog a rapidograph

This lesson is a hard one to defend its inclusion in a list of 250 things all architects should know (18 days in and the biggest discovery I have is that there is seemingly no context to the list, no explanation as to what it is. ‘List of things all architects should know’ is the universally agreed upon interpretation). Were I a true journalist I would’ve bought myself a set to use and experience, maybe even deconstruct or flat out break. By the time I entered college ten years ago the school (CUArch, shout out) no longer required students to buy Rapidograph pens or mayline rulers. We still needed to learn hand drafting, but with pencil or micron pen and T-square.

Knowing ‘how to unclog a rapidograph’ implies a familiarity with technical hand drawing, which was taught to us as a means of learning about line weights, visual composition and orthographic projection. We also learned one, two and three point perspectives. These lessons were learned through digital programs in grad school (PennDesign, another shout out), skipping hand drawing for the most part. In 2012 Yale held a symposium Is Drawing Dead? which focused on sketching and the design process.

The rapidograph also brings up the issue of cost of supplies as a barrier to entry for some students. Architecture is a profession over represented by white men, but is also over represented by people who grew up in families with plenty of intellectual or financial capital.


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