Lebbeus Woods, a New York architect who became a cult figure among students and academics for his signature drawings, died on Tuesday at age 72. … Mr. Woods became best known for fantastical illustrations of imaginary buildings and dystopic scenes, rendered in colored pencil and ink. / Robin Pogrebin, “Lebbeus Woods, Architect of the Imaginary Realm, Dies” (link)
A trained architect and engineer, Lebbeus Woods reimagines modern environments not by designing buildings or by proposing city plans, but by making drawings that ask us to view our surroundings in a new light. His eponymous constructions are jarring in their depiction of the violence and fragmentation that define today’s social, political, and geographical landscapes. “Architecture must learn to transform the violence,” Woods wrote in War and Architecture (1997), “even as violence knows how to transform the architecture.” / SFMOMA archive (link)
Of the architects we’re proudest to have published first, and often, Lebbeus Woods is surely near or at the top of that list. Starting in 1989 with his monograph, OneFiveFour, we subsequently published War and Architecture (1993), Radical Reconstruction (1997), and The Storm and the Fall (2004). All feature Lebbeus’ well-known and inimitable drawings, kinetic lines so full of energy that they seem to lift the architecture he so vividly imagined clean off the page. Sadly, I spoke with Lebbeus ten days ago about a new book, this one a history of post-WWII architecture, told from his unique insights as one of the great architectural visionaries of our times. He sounded strong and in good spirits (he’s been ill for some time), and excited about nearing completion of a major built work, a sky lobby in a project in China planned by his close friend, Steven Holl. I hope we’ll be publishing his just-finished history in the next year or so—stay tuned here for details. Although it will be his last printed book, his influence is deeply imprinted in the architectural and visual culture of the early twenty-first century and in legions of devoted students. I can state with certainty that, as sorely as he will be missed, you haven’t heard the last from Lebbeus Woods: he will be with us for a very long time to come.