Drink & draw
SO A BUNCH OF ARCHITECTS WALK INTO A BAR … It sounds like the setup for a joke, but it’s the basis of an honored tradition at the yearly conference of the Florida chapter of American Institute of Architects: the Drink and Draw. It involves three major elements: architects, cocktail napkins and drinks. Lots of drinks.
The grassroots competition is the brainchild of West Palm Beach urban designer/public artist Sherryl Muriente, MURP, Associate AIA, who came up with the idea four years ago.
Whenever architects get near paper — even napkins in a bar — they can’t resist taking out their pens and sketching. It’s as natural as talking. So why not transform that impulse into a friendly competition?
When the Florida AIA planning committee was working on the 2014 conference, Ms. Muriente says, “We wanted to have a happy hour with a purpose, where people would have to draw to get a prize —which was a free drink. We put it into the program as part of the convention.”
Part of the idea was to encourage networking so that AIA members from around the state could get to know one another. And when architects draw together, she adds, “You really come to your core and you understand each other.”
It would also be a friendly way for more experienced and younger architects to mingle.
Twenty-five conference attendees showed up for the first Drink and Draw. The conference was in Miami that year and was so successful it became a tradition. The second Drink and Draw took place in Boca Raton, the third in West Palm Beach.
And the fourth occurred recently at the Naples Grande Beach Resort in Naples.
Instead of a noisy, crowded bar, about 100 architects gathered in a hotel ballroom. A sponsor, Graphisoft Archicad, provided pens and drink coasters on which to draw. Some architects bemoaned the loss of napkins, which provide more space and can even be opened up for panoramic sketches.
They were given four categories in which to compete: Best Partner Sketch (two people drawing together), Best Section of a Building, Best Elevation of an Interior or Exterior Building and Best Realistic 3-D Rendering. They had 10 minutes to create a drawing and pin their work to a bulletin board. If they wanted to make more drawings during that time, they could. They just had to be done within 10 minutes’ time.
Three judges would determine the winners: Virgil Campaneria, AIA, and Lourdes Solera, AIA, both of Miami; and Amie Calisti, Associate AIA, of West Palm Beach.
As the evening progressed and the libations flowed, the event grew more raucous. Architects tried to beat the clock. After running to pin up their drawing, they’d hover around the boards to see what their professional peers had created.
“Draw responsibly!” Ms. Muriente cajoled them.
“There is no bribing of the judges,” she told them at another point. “No extra drinks!”
Some images showed an economy of line, while others were full of detail. Drawings were highly technical, whimsical, realistic or imaginary. One winning drawing showed the cross-section of a waterfall. Another, which seemed to be just a curvy line and an arrow, was actually a drawing of the back of a female nude.
A Best in Show award was given to Don Yoshino, an accomplished artist as well as an architect, who received a $100 gift certificate from Graphisoft. He decided to pay it forward by holding his own impromptu contest for young architects (those licensed for 10 years or less) and associates (those on the path to licensure) He asked them to draw a person, either a full figure or a face. The winner would receive his $100 gift certificate.
You could feel a shiver of excitement run through the room at this unexpected twist of events: the Drink and Draw wasn’t over! There was yet another competition.
Ten minutes later, Mr. Yoshino thoughtfully looked over the entries and chose the winner: a close-up of an eyeball.
“Drawing by hand takes you back to the first reason of why you want to become an architect,” Ms. Muriente said at the end of the evening. “And this is why we do this … to remember that this is where we started, drawing by hand.”
Joyce Owens, Florida AIA president and principal of Architecture Joyce Owens, said architecture and the ability to sketch go hand-in-hand.
“If you can’t draw the space that you imagine, you won’t be a good architect,” Ms. Owens said. “Drawing is an architect’s opportunity to explore space, light and shade, structure and form, without restraint.
“And, it’s our most valuable communication tool, because it can inspire others with our conceptual ideas.” ¦