School of Architecture Announces The Connell Workshop

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Lane M. Duncan, AIA Senior Lecturer

“Drawing, properly taught, is the best way of developing intelligence and forming judgment, for one learns to see and seeing is knowledge,” this advice by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc,the iconic 19th century French architect and theorist, is a timeless reminder that the ability to visually explore conceptual thought is fundamental to the study of architecture. These drawings require not only a skilled representation of the external world, but also an ability to translate complex internal, and often competing, ideas onto paper.  

The new Connell Workshop explores a wide range of these issues in hand drawing - tone, line, contour, gesture, composition, iterative geometry, and the humanistic forces that shape them. The School of Architecture is amongst the leading U.S. institutions in this way of critical thinking.  Whether it was charcoal on the walls of pre-historic cave paintings, graphite and ink on vellum through the 20th century, or electronic technology of the 21st century, these media are the basic tools by which we come to understand architectural design. In addition to the issues explored, no small benefit of drawing by hand is the slow, tactile, thought process required - focused thinking.

This new workshop is made possible by a generous gift from a former Georgia Tech professor and alumnus, Arnall T. “Pat” Connell.  Professor Connell came to Georgia Tech in the late 60’s from Ohio State University, Columbia University and the University of Virginia. In the early 70’s Pat became a pioneering champion of historic preservation in the Atlanta area. He organized a small group of forward thinking politicians, civic leaders and celebrities to found the “Save the Fox” movement, resulting in Atlanta’s beloved Fox Theatre being saved from the wrecking ball.  He and his late wife Martha, co-founded the Great American Gallery, Atlanta’s unique contribution to contemporary crafts and fine arts objects. Many of the works that they curated now reside in leading museums and private collections around the U.S.

Pat’s great legacy at Georgia Tech is his unwavering belief in the value of personal, hand crafted expression in the act of drawing. His support has allowed Lane Duncan to carry on critical investigations in both perception and conception - the way we see the world and the way we attempt to order the world. This work includes life drawing, examination of the work of Renaissance artists such as Raphael and Michelangelo, studies in Euclidean, projective, and Islamic metaphorical geometries and “idea capture” design sketching.    

Mr. Duncan describes Professor Connell as, “A true scholar who believes that hand drawing is a vital ‘technology’ to seeing and understanding the world around us and that it is an essential tool for the architect no matter what generation.”

Drawing requires that all the sensory apparatus of the body participate in the process of creating an image of the observed or imagined stimulus. Unlike the camera, which records only a split-second view of the object, the act of drawing is not time-dependent. The act of image-making informs and instructs the brain to keep looking for all the messages being sent. The image-maker always decides when to make changes and when the work is ‘finished.’ The Gestalt is there for the taking by anyone. – Pat Connell, 2016


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