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Cocktail Napkin Sketch Contest - 2012

Record was deluged with submissions for its third annual cocktail-napkin sketch contest. The jury of editors evaluated nearly 1,000 napkins from over 300 entrants. In addition to individual submissions, many firms sent large packages stuffed with napkins drawn by employees—principals, associates, designers, interns, and other office staff. This year, we created a special award to highlight one firm with the best body of work. We also invited two well-known architects to join in.

Winner, Professional
Winner Geoff Parker, 38, an Oklahoma City native who recently joined 308 Design Collaborative, teaches first- and second-year studio art courses to undergraduates at the University of Oklahoma, where he received his B.Arch. and M.Arch. Parker spent about 10 minutes on his sketch, which he says is a quick doodle of an imaginary cityscape. “I was playing around with perspective and trying to generate some depth,” he says. The architect drew the sketch using a fountain pen and colored pencils and explains, “I was intentionally trying to see how fast and loose I could draw it and still make it read.” With a father who is also an architect, Parker says he’s known from childhood that architecture was his calling. 

Runners-up The winning sketch by a nonprofessional was drawn by Brian Droste, 25, an intern at the firm Wight & Company. While enrolled in the five-year architecture program at Notre Dame, Droste studied in Rome, where a professor introduced him to light-and-shadow drawing studies, the inspiration for his sketch. Droste says he has always been fascinated by the work of architect Bertrand Goldberg, and his Marina City (1964) in particular, because of the way light bounces across the buildings, emphasizing petal-like forms. Droste completed his sketch in about 10 minutes using a fountain pen. “The pen bleeds so quickly—it makes you go so much faster,“ he says. “You have to commit and not go back, almost like a watercolor.” 

Runners-Up, Professional
Merit In the professional category, the jury awarded cocktail napkin sketches that ranged from quick sketches of iconic buildings to whimsical studies on the design process. The jurors generally favored sketches that looked more like late-night handiwork done in a dimly lit bar than carefully crafted renderings, though they did select a few of each, including vibrant sketches of agricultural buildings and the Washington Monument. 

Runners-Up, Non-professional
Off-Beat Entries Submissions in the nonprofessional category ran the gamut: We received hundreds of sketches of built masterworks—both ancient and modern—found across the globe. Ninetieth and twentieth century buildings, particularly those designed by architects Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn, Frank Gehry, and Antonio Gaudi, dominated the submissions. The diversity of submissions is reflected in the jury’s selections, which range from an impeccable rendering-like drawing of the Colosseum in Rome to an exquisitely simple sketch of Jeanne Gang’s Aqua Tower in Chicago. 

Best Firm Submissions
For a seemingly anachronistic art form in these digital times, it is surprising that a number of architecture firms sent entries from many employees. This year RECORD decided to give the firm with the most memorable sketches its own award category, “Best Firm Submissions.” Cooper Carry, based in Alexandria, VA, was awarded our special firm award, submitting sketches from over a dozen employees. The firm also had its own internal judging before submitting their work to RECORD. 

 

Specially Invited Entries
RECORD solicited cocktail-napkin sketches from two well-known architects, just to show that leaders in the field still draw. Eugene Kohn, chairman of Kohn Pedersen Fox, largely submitted sketches of various New York cityscapes, while Albuquerque-based Antoine Predock drew various iconic buildings, including his own. 

 

AIA Convention Winner
RECORD hosted a mini Cocktail Napkin Sketch Contest in May at the AIA Convention in Washington, D.C. We received submissions from 30 entrants and selected one winner: Los Angeles-based designer Alvin Oei of Randall/Baylon Architects. 

 

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