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Architectural Plans as Fine Art

Master Plans: The Architectural Plan as Abstract Art

Drawings by John Wellborn Root, Daniel Burnham and others for Chicago landmarks; the Rookery, Carbide and Carbon, A Century of Progress pavilions as well as the contemporary works of Michael Hopkins that bring the plan into a fine art format.

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood. Daniel H. Burnham

A building plan is the architect's first mathematical draft in creating a structure. The plan maps the place where a building will touch the ground, the footprint to be filled with stone, steel, brick and glass.

As an architect's first mechanical drawing, the plan has a power that no elevation or façade detail can match. Like Cubism, a building plan distills the 3-dimensional world to a flat 2-dimensional plane. Unlike Cubism, it is read without emotional content, as a purely intellectual form. Even the most traditional plan can be mistaken for a work of modern art.

Beginning Friday, April 21st, ArchiTech presents an exhibition and sale of original plans by Daniel Burnham and John Wellborn Root, featuring the original drawings of Chicago's legendary Rookery Building and other structures by Burnham and Root and its successor firms.

'Master Plans' also features plans from Frank Lloyd Wright's 1910 Wasmuth Portfolio, and engravings from 18th Century archives. In addition, miniature paintings by contemporary artist Michael Hopkins, like architectural 'haikus', bring the plan into the 21st Century.

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to enlarge

architectural plan, 17h Century
Jombert, Paris, Publisher
Plan of the Church of the Sorbonne, Paris
Copperplate engraving, Circa 1850
14 x 9 3/4 in.

abstract architectural art
Michael Hopkins
Acrylic on Wood, 1993
6 x 6 inches



Burnham and Root Original Structural Drawings:
Rookery Building, Chicago 1886

Column drawing

Original Drawings
ArchiTech presents eighteen surviving plan drawings for iron framing and concrete placement, terra cotta configuration and window sections. Drawn in black and blue india ink on glazed linen, several show Daniel Burnham's own corrections and suggestions in colored pencil. Originally named the Central Building on the earlier drawings, by April 1886 when the alteration drawings were dated, the name had been changed to Rookery Building.

Condition is unrestored, showing all the evidence of daily use on site during construction, and one hundred years of storage in less than ideal archival situations.

Two drawings, alteration #19 for the new 9th floor and an unnumbered basement plan for the Illinois State Bank vaults have been archivally framed as outstanding examples of nineteenth century engineering documents as well as strong, graphic art objects.

David Jameson
ArchiTech Gallery
730 North Franklin suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654

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