Teorema 002: Exploration Place Sketch, Moshe Safdie, around 1995

Teorema 002: Exploration Place Sketch, Moshe Safdie, around 1995

This sketch represents an early conceptual design for the Exploration Place Science Center and Children’s Museum in Wichita, Kansas. The project is a one hundred square foot building of galleries, theaters, and exhibit space. It is located in downtown Wichita where the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers meet. Constructed of toroid geometries that form a series of concave roofs, the exhibition building becomes an ‘island’ extending into the river and, in contrast, the land building has been inserted deep into the earth.

The sketch shows a series of unarticulated geometric shapes perched on a dark body of wavy lines. Safdie writes that this sketch ‘was done at the earliest design phases in which I had concluded that the museum should, in part, be an island within the river, expressive of the component parts of the individual galleries that make up the museum.’ The image appears to capture Safdie’s first thoughts. Unsure of the shape the future structure would take, the sketch uses light lines to give the gesture of what the building will be. Because of the abstract form, he filled the shapes with color to articulate volumes, most likely to begin to view the combination of parts. The façades have not yet been given windows or materiality, but instead convey the shadows of planes. At this point the pieces could not be viewed as a building, but a suggestion that assisted Safdie in exploring the next iteration.

Rendered with ink and either chalk or crayon, in values of blue and tan, the lines are expressive and brief; few strokes of the pen outline a possible building. The river in the foreground is the most worked feature, showing waves and areas of deep blue. Sensitive to the site, Safdie has chosen to view the building from the river. This emphasizes the strong relationship the building has with its site, and is most likely part of the impetus for the design conception.

From Kendra Schank Smith, Architects Drawings, Architectural Press, Oxford, 2005

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