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Prominent Texas Architect Defends Hand Drawing In a Spirited Talk at Houston’s Greenwood King — Michael G. Imber Speaks Up

The Lobby Speaker Series Draws Another Big Name

BY // 05.02.24
photography Kara Trail

Prominent San Antonio architect Michael G. Imber gave a spirited talk about his new book The Art of the Architect (Triglyph Books) at Greenwood King Properties’ The Lobby on Kirby Drive presented by the Institute of Classical Architects (ICAA) with Sebastian Construction Group. Architects, ICAA members, realtors and architecture lovers turned out in droves to support one of Texas’s great architects.

The Lifetime Arthur Ross Award recipient’s beautiful new book features Imber’s paintings and sketches, and celebrates the role that drawing and watercolor play in architecture. In our modern world of AI, smartphones and computer rendering, some contemporary architects view hand drawing as obsolete.

But as Imber pointed out to the full house at The Lobby, he is “drawing to see.” Works of art done by hand possess a piece of spirit and inform Imber about the landscape and scale of a project. Imber revealed that he views a hand drawing as an active response to its subject that helps to inform us about the way we live within the natural world.

Prominent San Antonio architect Michael G. Imber gave a spirited talk about his new book The Art of the Architect. (Photo by Kara Trail)
Prominent San Antonio architect Michael G. Imber gave a spirited talk about his new book The Art of the Architect. (Photo by Kara Trail)

Imber recalled the celebrated British architect Sir Edwin Lutyens’ adage: “Don’t talk about it. Draw it.” A hand drawn rendering of a building enables Imber to visually communicate with  his clients, and his own team, craftsmen and contractors. Architectural renderings date to the Renaissance era, and Imber is eager to see that continue well into the future. He has served as a Robert A.M. Stern Visiting Professor at the Yale School of Architecture, where he immediately handed each student a sketchbook, which he said had not been done at Yale as hand drawing is not a requirement.

Imber not only uses drawings to inform his architecture, but also as he travels as a visual diary.

“To draw is to absorb it into my memory and make it a part of who I am as a person and as an architect,” he says.

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Philip Rife & Meg Greenwood Rife (Photo by Kara Trail)
Philip Rife and Meg Greenwood Rife (Photo by Kara Trail)

When Imber looks back at his drawings, it evokes memories and feelings, and the studies of other cultures via travel. After the thought provoking and inspiring discussion, Imber signed books and mingled with the attendees.

PC Seen: Greenwood King’s Linda King, Meg Greenwood Rife, Caroline Billipp, and Lorraine Abercrombie; ICAA’s Hill Swift; Vallette and Russell Windham, Stephanie and Reagan Cocke, Nadia Palacios Lauterbach, Virginia Kelsey, Rogelio Carrasco, and George Sutherland.

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