“I never had any formal training, but drawing simply feels natural. I’m prolific. Always have been. When I was a child, I made cartoonlike posters with colorful graphics. As a young adult, I was mesmerized by clothing design and typography. I even created my own fonts.
When I went to college premed, a professor suggested an anatomical illustration class, which I loved. I eventually turned to architecture, but in retrospect I realize I was always interested in the human body. Architecture, for me, is another expression of the human form.
Drawings help me get a large idea out quickly. But I don’t treat them preciously. They’re all over my office at Snøhetta. Last year when I was architect-in-residence at the American Academy in Rome, I covered 500 square feet of studio wall space with paint-pen drawings, which explored texture and conceptual ideas.
During the concept design phase for our addition to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, I used felt-tip pen to study the relationship between the museum’s original Mario Botta building, the expansion, and the art deco tower behind. We teach our staff that when you’re physically involved, whether drawing or building a model, you’re more committed, more focused, more thoughtful.”