14 February 2009

On Bow Ties and Architecture

Architecture schools have an old tradition of holding something called "charettes", or "sketch problems". Today I spent ten hours in schools participating in one.

The idea is simple. Students are given a brief lecture in the morning involving some design problem and by evening are expected to have produced a model and a set of drawings to represent their quick solution to the problem. It's a tradition the has it's roots in the Ecole des Beaux Arts, and it is intended to build the sort of quick thinking and decision making skills so often needed "in the field", as they say.

Today we were given a free standing one room building, 24ft. X 24ft., to be used as an artists studio. We were to figure out a way to light the building naturally, both directly an indirectly, through the use of skylights and the situation of the building on it's site. I passed. My project was on the high side of the middle. There were some that blew me away, and others that were just junk. I'm pleased with the results.

So what does one wear to a "charette"? Khakis, blue oxford, bow tie and penny loafers, of course. ( the camera needs new batteries, so use your imagination). I was advised to dress comfortably, so I wore a sweater instead of a jacket.

Recently I posted about bow ties have been the neck wear of choice for architects in the past, and today I finally realized why: bow ties don't hang down into all the cutting and gluing and drafting, messy work to be sure. A long tie most certainly would not only be destroyed, but more importantly would be forever in the way. This must also explain the former popularity of v-neck sweater among the design set.

Once, a friend's grandfather, who was a butcher, gave me a similar reason for his own penchant for bow ties.

Of course, these days, the preferred neck wear for an architect is:none, the preferred method of shaving is:none, and the preferred thickness of drafting lead is:laptop. (smallest violin...)

And so, in closing, I leave with this photo, of two architects dressed like architects. (Gotta love that checked jacket and those round horn-rims):

Guess Who.


The Other Gotham said...

Well it's Le Corbusier on the left, and as for the one on the right...

Ray Frensham said...

I was in Boston not so long ago. Walking along Newberry Street in the Back Bay area, I passed a chap wearing a splendid hand-painted bow tie. I anted to stop him and ask him about it, but he wasd with a young lady at the time, so I let them pass.

Later gthat same day, at Harvard Square, I was in a queue for coffee, standing behind this very same chap. I had to ask him about the tie (and I, as always, was wearing a bow tie, so baturally we had a base to touch). He told me he was an architect and affirmed precisely the reason why he wears them: theuy do not flop onto the plans when he's trying to describe his ideas to clients.

Intensely practical, when you thikn about it (as with surgeons and doctors: a bow tie does not "fall into", or on to, the patient).

Plaid Dad said...

As soon as you described your outfit,I sketched it out in my mind,no further illustration was necessary...very nice ,yes.

Anonymous said...

Le Corbusier (left) & Walter Gropius (right). Robert Venturi, that you often mention, was also a smart dresser.

Toad said...

Let us not forget the look better also.

will you ditch the word verification please?

Cyclo2000 said...

Charles Jeaneret, Le Corbu.
Not so sure of the other geezer, Walter Gropius maybe?