Thanksgiving in Rome was brilliant, thanks to a well-timed family visit and a spectacular turkey dinner put on by the Academy chefs. Lots of overdue tourism on this end, including getting my kids up St. Peter’s dome (again) and consuming metric tons of gelato (Fior di Luna in Trastevere, winner and still champion) and pizza a taglio (Pizzeria Florida in Largo Argentina, same deal).
But it’s not all carbs and frozen custards. At least not this week. The University archives are open eight days this month, and I’ve got two of them reserved. And opening up folders with dust on top of them and seeing things like that (a reinforcing diagram for precast seating in the Stadio Flaminio) is one of the best things about this gig. There is nothing better than an archive with an open photography policy, good lighting, and a stepladder. Surprises aplenty today, as usual–I’ll try to parse a couple of them out over the next week or two.
One thing that always strikes me in going through Nervi’s drawings is the sheer beauty of even the most quotidian stuff. The reinforcing diagram there shows every single bar with shading. The line weight is impeccable, and the drawings are always incredibly easy to read–whatever’s important jumps right out at you, even in a drainage detail. I was lucky to practice at the tail end of the drafting era–we still had a couple of folks, about to retire, who genuinely knew how to put a drawing together that hit you solidly with its message. A dying craft in this age of Revit; I totally understand why we don’t do this anymore, and certainly we have the ability to rethink things more quickly and agilely with everything on the box. But these drawings–hundreds of them for the Stadio in particular–are beautiful things, and they do make me think that this profession used to have just a touch of romance to it.