1st Edition

How Drawings Work A User-Friendly Theory

By Susan Piedmont-Palladino Copyright 2019
    198 Pages 82 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    198 Pages 82 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    How Drawings Work cheekily explains that what architects make is information that enables other people to make buildings. That information comes in a variety of forms: drawings by hand and computer, models both physical and virtual, and words as needed. The book reflects in witty prose on the nature of architectural drawings as tools of communication, pulling from a diverse and eclectic landscape of theories from grammar, functional linguistics, philosophy, art criticism, science fiction, popular culture, and, of course, architecture, to propose a new way to think about architectural communication.


    1. Introduction: An irresponsibly brief history of drawing(s)
    2. Rhetoric and persuasion
    3. Direction of fit
    4. Matching the world
    5. Wishes and instructions
    6. The Elevation: the world’s most dangerous drawing
    7. Into the uncanny valley
    8. Conclusions and Questions



    Image credits


    Susan C. Piedmont-Palladino is a professor of Architecture, Coordinator of Urban Design, and the Director of Virginia Tech’s Washington / Alexandria Architecture Center in Alexandria, Virginia, USA. She is also a curator at the National Building Museum in Washington, District of Columbia, and a registered architect in the Commonwealth of Virginia, USA.

    "Susan Piedmont-Palladino provides wonderful insight into the various types and functions of drawings. This valuable book is both practical and inspirational and should be read by architects as well as students of design and others interested in built environments."
    Frederick Steiner, Dean, School of Design, University of Pennsylvania

    "No need to be an architect to appreciate this erudite, illustrated exploration of communication through drawing.  Susan Piedmont-Palladino critically analyzes drawing types, purposes, pitfalls and history, from cave art to digital modeling.  Yet her insightful, intellectually rigorous writing, often punctuated with 'just-between-you-and-me' asides, is witty and charmingly conversational."
    Roger K. Lewis, FAIA, Architect & Planner, Professor Emeritus, University of Maryland School of  Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Columnist, The Washington Post

    "Susan Piedmont-Palladino has written a book about drawing unlike any other. She recounts her own discovery of the depth and diversity of architectural drawings, exploring analogies with language and finding parallels with art history. It is an accessible book and a deeply personal and philosophical one as well, and it is well worth the time it takes to read."
    Professor Thomas Fisher, Director of the Minnesota Design Center at the University of Minnesota

    "Piedmont-Palladino takes you on an unexpected journey into a world of groundbreaking scholarship illuminated with startling 'aha' moments and profoundly witty observations. She makes you think and she makes you laugh—sometimes sequentially, sometimes simultaneously.  If you have ever seen a drawing or made a drawing, you will want to read this book. Now that I have read it, how I think about language and about drawing will never be the same again."
    Chase W. Rynd, Executive Director and CEO, National Building Museum

    "How Drawings Work is an altogether marvelous contribution to the literature on representation. Moving with agility across a range of perspectives—aesthetic philosophy and linguistic theory, architectural history and professional practice, science fiction and commercial advertising—Susan Piedmont-Palladino crafts a series of insightful arguments on the changing nature of architectural communication."
    Nancy Levinson, Places Journal

    "Piedmont-Palladino understands how architects’ use tools not just to design but find our way through the world. This wise exploration expands our understanding of how and why architects communicate—to each other and those who inhabit our creations—and deftly challenges the false choice between the analog and the digital by reframing our understanding of both."
    Phil Bernstein, Associate Dean and Senior Lecturer, Yale School of Architecture and former Vice President at Autodesk

    "Susan Piedmont-Palladino's boundless imagination shines in her new book. With grace and wit, she reveals the intellectually rich history of the architect's most basic tool--the drawing. Utterly delightful."
    Lance Hosey, author of The Shape of Green: Aesthetics, Ecology, and Design