Tuesday, February 11, 2014


As a follow up to last semester’s post regarding variation in the design process, I had the opportunity yesterday to visit the John Ronan exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago yesterday which is entitled “Iterations”. 

This is a small but fascinating exhibit that focusses on the design process used by Chicago Architect John Ronan for his work on the 2011 Poetry Foundation building. 

Of interest to me is how Ronan uses an iterative design process within his work to test ideas and explore variations.  Exploring this same theme in my previous blog post last year, when I teaching design I am often challenged to get students to truly explore options and test ideas through the process of making.  I still contend that to become a good designer, one must question, test, explore and invent through a process of iteration.

Ronan illustrates this process brilliantly through a series of process drawings and models on display in this exhibit.
First on display is a series of sketch organizational diagrams which explore options regarding the relationship between garden and major programmatic elements.

Perhaps even more interesting is a series of massing models (10 in total) that were created in a single afternoon design ‘charrette’ – a process intended to quickly flush out ideas.  These models are massing studies that quickly and elegantly explore a whole range of options for organizing and massing this relatively small institutional building.

Ronan uses a similar process to explore a range of options regarding the façade screen, which is one of the more prominent design features in the building.

Check out this small, but worthwhile exhibit at the Art Institute before May 4th, 2014

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