Art in Architecture: The Rendering

by Lynne Rostochil

Every year, the third Friday in February will find me and some of my bibliophile buddies hanging out at the Friends of the Library book sale digging through the piles upon piles of books looking for parchment treasures.  We cram our large suitcases full, pay a pittance for our stacks, then go to a big, celebratory dinner and head back to my house for a long night of drinking and delighting in our finds.  (The next day is usually spent trying to cure a nagging headache — thank you, wine — while rearranging all of the bookshelves looking for space for our new babies.)

While I could go on about this, my favorite day of the year, I realize that you’re probably wondering what on earth my ramblings about books and drunken reading fests have to do with architecture.  Well, this year among the piles of books I fought the hoards over and snuck into my suitcase is a 1960 edition of Albert O. Halse’s Architectural Rendering: The techniques of contemporary presentation.  This great addition to my architectural book collection contains all kinds of interesting color and black & white sketches and paintings of buildings that are now classics, and among the illustrations, I found this gem:

This rendering by S. Amaru of Bruce Goff’s simple and elegant design for Hopewell Baptist Church makes looking at the still-impressive but decaying building that’s there now one sad experience, that’s for sure:

After looking at that rendering, I wondered why they were and continue to be so important in the architecture world, and my new favorite book explained why:

“… the architectural picture, or rendering, has become an important and indispensable part of today’s practice.  The picture is a bridge between the intellect of the client and that of the architect — a common meeting ground without hard-to-understand technicalities….  If the rendering is important as a means of communication between architect and client, it is doubly important  to the architect himself, inasmuch as it is his means of visualizing the building and thereby eliminating flaws in the design.”  (Inasmuch?  Haven’t heard that word in awhile, nor its familiar cousin, insofar — think I like ’em.)

Well, there you go.  If Mr. Halse, a professor who taught delineation at the School of Architecture at Columbia University said it, it must be true.

After reading a bit about architectural drawing and its importance, I decided to see how many other renderings we might have in our OKCmod collection and came up with some very interesting examples.  Here are a few images in our catalog that I like inasmuch as they show the variety of techniques and styles artists used to create renderings of some of OKC’s most familiar buildings:

 St. Luke’s Methodist Church – Truett Coston, architect

Coley House – R. Duane Conner, architect

Cowboy Hall of Fame – Begrow & Brown, architects

St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church addition – HTB, architects

Oklahoma County Courthouse and Federal Building – Dow Gumerson, architect

Home State Insurance Parking Garage – Coston, Frankfurt & Short, architects

Lake View Country Club – architect unknown

Insofar as I find these renderings fascinating, I have to admit that I really enjoy the images of buildings that were never constructed, such as these:

The second, much grander design for First Chrisitian Church, 1953.

This incredible crystal design for the sanctuary at First Christian Church on NW 36th and Walker was deemed too expensive to build, so architect R. Duane Conner came up with the funky, space-age dome (egg, boob) that we all know and love today:

Here’s an interesting one:

That’s the Bob Bowlby-designed Founders Bank surrounded by an office tower that was never built.  I have to say that I’m glad the bank is all by itself on that big lot of land inasmuch as we get an unobstructed view of all of the bank’s mid-century goodness:

And another one:

This sweet storefront was the original design submitted by Berlowitz & Associates in 1946 for the first Citizens State Bank on NW 23rd and Dewey.  I guess the bank board wasn’t very pleased inasmuch as they went with this Bailey, Bozalis, Dickinson & Roloff design instead:

Then, after Citizens State Bank expanded this space twice and finally decided to construct a much larger building, they went with the same firm again, and we lucky OKC residents got the famous Gold Dome:

This is one of my very favorites.  Did you know that Robert Roloff of the aforementioned Bailey, Bozalis, Dickinson & Roloff designed a high-rise apartment building that was to be a companion piece to his wacky-but-wonderful, UFO-styled State Capitol Bank?  Well, I didn’t, either, until I found this drawing:

Inasmuch as the public was somewhat dazed and confused by the audacious bank that Leland Gourley and Robert Roloff built, it’s not surprising that they may not have been ready for this incredibly interesting and uber-modern, 12-story structure comprised of stacked concrete pods.  Well, that and the fact that Lincoln Plaza was going in around the same time down the street might have spelled the end for this beautiful dream.

And, here’s one final image of what Oklahoma City might have looked like:

This was architect, Dow Gumerson’s vision of a post-Urban Renewal downtown OKC that he called Traveler’s Plaza.  Some of the elements seem familiar insofar as the general layout of the new downtown is concerned, but city planners opted to go with the Pei Plan instead:

We have quite a few of these fascinating renderings in our collection and will continue to showcase and write about them with nary an insofar or inasmuch in sight in the future.