Studio Ryan Tyler Martinez

Graphic Architecture 

Towards Graphic, Image, and Drawing 



1. Interior Elevations: A-Typical House, 27x40


2. Helvetica Poster, 27x40


Architects are defined by graphics. They do not have enough opportunities to build, therefore they make images. This is a good thing. When dealing with a body of work, they should ask themselves how they can use and reuse graphics throughout their career. Drawings, renderings, photographs, observations, software, 3D models and films are ways they construct graphics. Even more so now in the 21st century.

Architects do not make buildings. Instead, we construct drawings of buildings.  We are construction document makers along with other subjects. Yet so few of us get the opportunity to see our drawings translated into buildings. Instead, we invent and organize information about buildings on paper; helping us move towards images and drawings and photographs of models.  Again, all graphic. 

Just as the graphic designer exhausts combinations of the alphabet into words and symbols, the architect re-uses forms and ideas more and more and more. But graphic architecture helps restrict the more into a limited edition; a one of a kind. Graphic architecture contributes to a body of work as an eye-catching, iconic or relevant image which is used and reused within a larger body of work. We should celebrate the graphic, the most powerful thing any architect can make.

In graphic architecture then, it is quite impossible to consider the building as one thing. We should consider its graphic representation as a body of work that represents the difficult whole and its life (come full circle) after its existence as a photograph or an image. The existence of any building with a critical idea relies more on its process than the neighborhood it supports. Architecture’s ultimate aim is a building made up of graphic editions: drawings, objects, writings, books, posters, films, stories.
Graphic design helps organize information to aid in navigating through the complexity and intricacy of today’s drawings. Construction document sets are filled with so many parts, it becomes challenging to organize information. Maybe we should compare the two.

1. Interior Elevations: A-Typical House
2. Helvetica Poster

The Helvetica poster is doing something similar to the drawing of interior elevations. First, understand their formal similarities. They are both aligned to the left. Twenty-six letters on one and almost twenty-eight elevations on the other. The spacing between text and elevations are consistent. One poster is minimal, the other is filled with multitudinous lines and figures. A more important fact about these images is their relationship to a construction document set. The interior elevations show seven interior rooms unfolded. The drawings represent information on other pages within a construction document set. Simultaneously, these elevations provide clues to other elevations, which help our understanding of the represented rooms’ interiority. The Helvetica poster is effectually very similar, while strongly positioning itself as graphic design. The alphabet is shown in an orderly grid. The letters A-C-E-H-I-L-T-V are red, forcing the viewer to navigate between them to spell out H-E-L-V-E-T-I-C-A. So, just like a construction document asks us to navigate through an organized set of information, graphic design asks architects to understand their work through operatively navigating their ideas—formally.




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