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Truth in Architecture: Works by Paul Stevenson Oles FAIA


Image courtesy BSA Staff.

Considered one of the world’s premier architectural illustrators, Paul Stevenson Oles FAIA has worked as independent architect, professor, author, and illustrator in the Boston area for over 40 years. This fall, BSA Space hosts a comprehensive exhibition featuring selections from the best drawings of Oles’s 50-year career, highlighting the legacy and value of hand drawing in a digital age. Although a majority of Oles’s work was commissioned by the New York firm I.M. Pei & Partners, the exhibition features numerous examples of drawings done for Boston-area firms such as Cambridge Seven Associates, The Architects Collaborative, Safdie Architects, Jung/Brannen Associates, Childs Bertman Tseckares, and Schwartz/Silver Architects. Drawings of Boston’s Moakley Federal Courthouse, the Washington National Cathedral and Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial are included in the show.

Oles taught architectural drawing at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Yale University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from the 1970s until 2004. Oles served as MIT campus architect from 1969 through 1971 and was a Loeb Fellow at the GSD in 1982.

In addition to teaching, writing, and executing commissioned drawings for other professionals, Oles practiced as an independent architect, winning three regional design competitions in the fields of elderly housing, energy-efficient residential, and bridge design. Original drawings from these competition entries are included in the exhibition.

I.M. Pei wrote, “Steve Oles is an architect/artist who perceives the intellectual substance in the design intent and skillfully, rigorously, and with fidelity investigates design implications through drawings. He is a valued collaborator in the search for truth in architecture.”

In 1985, Oles cofounded the American Society of Architectural Illustrators (ASAI). The exhibition at BSA Space coincides with the ASAI 2016 conference in Boston in September.

This exhibition was originally organized by the Friends of Architecture Santa Fe.