Building Blocks

The DMA’s M2 hallway is hosting work by the winners and finalists of the 2016 Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition, which celebrates the best in architectural delineation by professionals and students throughout the world. Averaging more than 400 entries from 25 countries in recent years, KRob is currently the most senior architectural drawing competition anywhere in the world.

Julien Meyrat, a senior designer at Dallas-based architecture firm Gensler, shared some insight into the history of this four-decades-old competition. Be sure to visit the work, on view through December 5 and included in free general admission, on your next visit to the DMA.

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What is the Ken Roberts Delineation Competition?
The AIA Dallas Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition (or “KRob” for short) is an annual event that recognizes excellence in how architecture is visualized through drawing. Organized by the Dallas chapter of the American Institute of Architects, students and professionals from around the world are invited to submit drawings and renderings done either by hand or by digital means. Most entries are received by the competition’s official website, but people are also encouraged to deliver their submission to the AIA Dallas office. A three-person jury selected by the committee evaluates the entries for technical and expressive qualities and not for the merit of the architectural designs they illustrate. Winners are chosen for various categories: Hand Drawing, Digital/Mixed Media, Travel Sketch, Physical Submissions, and 3D Printing.

How did it get started?
Dallas architect Jack Craycroft noticed an abundance of quality perspective drawings produced by young designers who worked alongside him in the early 1970s. When he was installed as president of AIA Dallas in 1974, he decided to create a competition for Dallas-area architects to showcase their delineations that would have otherwise been given to clients or hidden in flat-file storage cabinets. He enlisted his young up-and-coming colleague Ken Roberts to lead the new committee to organize the event. It was a major success, though Roberts tragically passed away several months later. AIA Dallas resolved to make the new delineation competition an annual event, and renamed it after its first committee chair.

What has changed about the competition over the years?
Going on its 42nd year, the Ken Roberts Memorial Delineation Competition is the longest-running architectural drawing competition anywhere. Thanks to Dallas’s supportive community of architects and faculty from the University of Texas at Arlington, the competition has served as a window into how we continue to find new ways of depicting buildings and environments. One can study how hand drawing was enhanced with a variety of physical media, how the computer enabled exponentially new avenues for visual communication, and how films and video games continue to influence the way individuals tell stories in their delineations. Eight years ago, KRob opened itself to the world, allowing individuals from over 25 countries to participate. Recently the competition added a new category for 3D-printed models, since this new media continues the critical tradition of using drawing as part of the dynamic design process. The annual exhibition that features the winning finalists is intended to convey the tremendous breadth in visual and graphic talent inherent in the art of architectural drawing.

Thomas Rusher, registered architect , Rusher Studio LLC, 3D Print, 2016

Thomas Rusher, registered architect, Rusher Studio LLC, 3D print, 2016.

Julien Meyrat, AIA, is a senior designer at Gensler. He is also a former chair of the AIA Dallas Ken Roberts Committee.

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