Drawing Ambience review – architects’ dream projects

Drawing ambience review – architects' dream projects
Superstudio’s New-New York, 1969.
© Alvin Boyarsky archive

Under the tutelage of Alvin Boyarski, a group of young architects including Daniel Libeskind and Zaha Hadid imagined the buildings of the future, laying down a challenge that still resonates

In the winter of 1971, Alvin Boyarsky was campaigning to take over leadership of London’s Architectural Association School of Architecture, known as the AA. The school, independent since its founding in 1847, had avoided subsumption by the public Imperial College only to emerge in financial disrepair, near to shutdown, in need of new direction and an entirely new structure.

In his notes, included in Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarksy and the Architectural Association, at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Boyarsky congratulates the AA for “maintaining a spirit of independent survival”. Independence, he writes, depends on “vigorous ambience”. A handwritten addendum reads: “Open up all the doors and blow the cobwebs away.”

As Boyarsky would have it, the doors – and windows – of Drawing Ambience are open. The exhibition showcases early sketches, drawings and prints by architects including Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas from Boyarsky’s archive, RISD’s Fleet library and four AA publications. In its fluid unfolding, Drawing Ambience materialises the “vigorous ambience” of the AA during Boyarsky’s chairmanship, which lasted until his death in 1990. []