Architectural Sketches 002 – The Series

About 30 days and thousands of sketches later, it’s time for the next round of Architectural Sketches – The Series. While I think adding “The Series” on to the end certainly makes it sound super exciting, I’m not entirely convinced of its value. I really want to try and demonstrate that there are all sorts of ways that architects sketch and work through design challenges, but my sketches just aren’t that great as standalone items.

As I’ve explained numerous times, my sketches seem to be representations of how I work through problems, whereas other people in my office create magnificent artistic drawings (just look at this: Architectural Sketchbooks for further proof). As a result, my sketches are typically incomplete and what you are missing is me talking in the background as I create them. I don’t mean to say that I sit at my desk muttering to myself as I sketch, it’s just that I tend to be working with someone while I am sketching and my sketch is simply the embodiment of what I’m saying.

All that notwithstanding, I will give this another go and we’ll play it by ear to see if there is another entry into the ‘Architectural Sketches‘ series.

Eyewear Retail design concept 01

Today I thought I would take a look at a small retail component that is contained within a thriving Optometry and Ophthalmology practice located in San Marcos, Texas. We are working on the entire building but for today’s purposes, we’ll just be looking at the retail portion – the original concept of which is shown in the plan above.

We have already gone through programming but the plan above is really our first shot and meeting those programming requirements without any input from our clients. The layout for this space is pretty straightforward, even though there are a lot of moving parts. When we presented this initial plan, the response was favorable, but it was pretty clear that they had something else in mind – something that we hadn’t walked about before. They wanted to scale back on the amount of eyewear and focus more on the experience someone would have upon visiting the space.

Music to our ears! … Or eyes.

Sketch Study 002 original idea

During this meeting, we developed the idea of an eyewear theater – basically a counter where clients could sit and have a much more personalized, yet casual, interaction with the people who are making their glasses. This meant that we would be pulling part of the workspace out of it’s enclosed space, and making it more public. The sketch above shows that modification, along with the one space we haven’t really mentioned yet – the service/coffee bar (which you can see at the very bottom of the sketch).

Sketch Study 002 modified concept - sketch by Bob Borson

Next, we turned our attention to the overall space and discussed how the main floor could become both more open, and casual, but with the added challenge of creating individual one-on-one spaces so that the staff could work with the clients on choosing their eyewear.

After the quick diagram study above was created, it became obvious that we needed to flip the eyewear theater with the enclosed workspace.

Sketch Study 002 final concept

And here is that resulting sketch. By flipping the theater and the enclosed workspace, we were able to combine the open space associated with the service bar and the theater – and hopefully creating a much more pleasant space.

But something still wasn’t quite right. The seating area lacked definition and at least some idea of privacy.

Sketch Study 002 final concept take 2

So we started taking a look at how we could use one of the long display tables to help break up the space and provide some sense of intimacy on the sales floor.

Eyewear Retail 02

And here is the plan that was put together after these initial sketches were created. The process of putting these ideas down using pen and paper allows us to work through the concepts very quickly – in this case, we went from beginning to end in a single day.

Sketch Study 002 oculus theater detail

Of course, we don’t just work in plan when we discuss the changes we want to explore, there are other ideas that help shape the process – in this case, some elaboration on how the theater space will function, the role that it will play, and how the aesthetics will come together. The sketch above shows my thought process on how glassed could be stored while they are in process or while they are waiting for their owner to come and collect them. Again, this is an atrocious sketch but the idea is fairly well articulated.

For fun, and simply because we created them to send off to the clients, let’s take a look at the space after we ran it through some quick out-of-the-box renders.

Architectural Sketches - Rendering 001

None of the finishes have been selected and of course, lighting, HVAC, electrical, etc. are missing from this model. We are not ready yet to present our display concepts so for now, those areas are simply represented by a gray translucent mass.

Architectural Sketches - Rendering 002

I love that we can create these sorts of drawings so quickly – a nice by-product of good communication and talented employees. The space is far from finished but I can already spot a few things that require some additional attention.

Architectural Sketches - Rendering 003

Architectural Sketches - Rendering 004

One of the design concepts that we have for this project are these metal screens that exist in key locations. There is a large-scale screen on the exterior and we have brought this element to the interior on a smaller scale. The idea is to provide a visual connection between the adjoining spaces – while providing the ability to provide security between the spaces since they maintain different hours of operation. We didn’t want to use a large window or a piece of glass, but rather have these “non-walls” separate the spaces in a visually less imposing manner.

Architectural Sketches - Rendering 005

I would also like to think that these screens will make both spaces far more visually impactful – certainly a positive quality for a retail environment.


Interestingly enough, this is the same space that was featured in the initial “Architectural Sketches – The Series” even though we simply looked at the exterior wall of this space. Over the years, I haven’t really spent much time focusing on the commercial side of our practice – something that I am trying to change as part of 2018 Improvement goals for the site.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post – Cheers, and Happy Sketching!!

Bob signature FAIA


Source: Life of an Architect