AAP Exhibition is the First in U.S. to Showcase Architectural Drawings from Berlin Museum

gallery exhibit
The Treasury, Legacy: A Museum for Architectural Drawing exhibition in John Hartell Gallery features drawings of renowned Soviet and Russian architects. William Staffeld / AAP
students in gallery
Students explore Treasury, Legacy during a reception with Sergei Tchoban before his lecture on September 9. William Staffeld / AAP
Sergei Tchoban
Sergei Tchoban, at left, meets with students during the September 9 reception before his lecture in the Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium. William Staffeld / AAP
The Treasury, Legacy: A Museum for Architectural Drawing exhibition in John Hartell Gallery features drawings of renowned Soviet and Russian architects. William Staffeld / AAP Students explore Treasury, Legacy during a reception with Sergei Tchoban before his lecture on September 9. William Staffeld / AAP Sergei Tchoban, at left, meets with students during the September 9 reception before his lecture in the Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium. William Staffeld / AAP
News
September 22, 2015

The art of architectural drawing was celebrated at AAP when the founder of Berlin's new Museum for Architectural Drawing visited Cornell on September 9 to see the first exhibition of his collection in the United States.

Sergei Tchoban, the Russian architect who created the museum, began the day by touring the exhibition of the 60 drawings from his collection that are on display in Sibley and Milstein halls. He then met students and faculty at a reception featuring musicians playing Russian folk music and a smorgasbord of traditional Russian borscht, pickled eggs, and black bread topped with smoked-fish.

Tchoban founded the Museum for Architectural Drawing in 2013, after he had amassed a collection of nearly 1,000 architectural drawings from architects around the globe. Although certain museums, such as Sir John Soane's Museum in London, display architectural drawings, they are usually a small part of a broader collection of art.

"I saw after visiting many, many museums that a lot of architectural drawings were being stored in the archives and wouldn't be shown in the public spaces, because the spaces weren't there," Tchoban said.

Last year, Mark Morris, AAP's director of exhibitions and events and visiting associate professor of architecture, visited the museum while attending a conference in Berlin. After meeting Tchoban and browsing through the collection and the museum's archives, Morris decided he wanted to stage an exhibit of its most prominent drawings at AAP.

"Certain drawings had such creative depth, that even though unbuilt, they did more architectural work by influencing others," said Morris, "In that regard, they stand alone, not as buildings, but as dreams in the architectural memory. They hold as strong a place in architectural discourse as any building does."

Another reason Morris wanted to bring a sampling of Tchoban's collection to campus was to showcase a skill that is emphasized in the architectural education offered at AAP. "Cornell architecture has always valued drawing, and in this digital age, persists in teaching hand-drawing techniques, while some other schools do not," Morris said. "I thought it was important to bring highlights of the collection to Cornell to bring a particular focus to drawing and celebrate it as something we do."

The artistry in the drawings is evident in the works displayed at the AAP exhibitions, which run through September 25. The John Hartell Galley in Sibley Hall features drawings of renowned Soviet and Russian architects, such as the winning design for the Palace of the Soviets by Boris Iofan and several notable constructivist works by Yakov Chernikov. The Bibliowicz Family Gallery in Milstein Hall highlights the wider international collection of the Berlin museum, including drawings by Italian architect Aldo Rossi.

After the gallery tours and reception, Tchoban gave a lecture that focused on the museum's architecture and collections. During a roundtable discussion following the lecture, Jeffrey Chusid, associate professor of city and regional planning, asked Tchoban about the role of drawing in his own architectural work.

"From my point of view, I think that good architecture is architecture you can draw," Tchoban said. Explaining the purpose of drawing, Tchoban added, "The end of good architectural drawing is architectural drawing, and nothing else. It is a piece of art that lasts over time."

By Sherrie Negrea