Stories from Architecture
Behind the Lines at Drawing Matter
The imagined histories of twenty-five architectural drawings and models, told through reminiscences, stories, conversations, letters, and monologues.
Even when an architectural drawing does not show human figures, we can imagine many different characters just off the page—architects, artists, clients, builders, developers, philanthropists—working, observing, admiring, arguing. In Stories from Architecture, Philippa Lewis captures some of these untold stories, offering the imagined histories of twenty-five architectural drawings and models. Through reminiscences, anecdotes, conversations, letters, and monologues—from the factual, including Frank Lloyd Wright's correspondence with a Wisconsin librarian, to the fictional, including a penurious nineteenth-century draftsman who draws the Burlington Arcade for financial survival—Lewis provides the human context for these works.
Some of the people Lewis writes about are famous—Wright, Richard Neutra, Marc Brunel, Horace Walpole among others—but many are not. There's a young woman who flirts with a “handsome young fellow” inexplicably drawing an old wall and trees on the site of a defunct smallpox hospital; a teenager who looks at the plans for a gadget-filled bachelor pad in Playboy magazine, dreaming of a life away from parental supervision; and that Wisconsin librarian, who commissions Wright to build a house for $5,500. The works, reproduced in color, are all from the Drawing Matter archive. They are fascinating objects in themselves, but Lewis shifts our attention beyond the drawing to other possible histories that linger, invisible, on the page, animating not just a series of archival documents but the writing of architectural history.