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Miller Hull sketch

“A perfect day for me would be … I can just … draw. To actually just sit there and design and draw and think.”—Robert Hull

Robert Hull, founding partner of The Miller Hull Partnership, was a curious and inventive architect, highly regarded for his creativity and approachable manner. Known for his elegant design sensibilities, Bob’s intuitive approach and amazing eye for composition helped bring Miller Hull national recognition and establish an architectural practice rooted in its Pacific Northwest context.

Hardly a day went by when Bob didn’t draw. He drew to make sense of things and for the sheer joy of making marks. In his hand, the pen became a medium for conversation; when someone couldn’t find the words to explain an idea, Bob would pass his pen—always a Niji Stylist—as an invitation to speak through sketching.

Bob expressed himself freely through drawing. In the Miller Hull office, “a Bob Sketch” referred to a drawing that conveyed the quintessential idea of a project in a single image—one that artfully balanced a level of imagination and reality accessible to both clients and architects. The sketch by Bob above (with corresponding notes below) reveals the connection between mind and hand—a record of thought and process.

1. Birds
Common in Bob’s drawings, the simple “bird” mark is easily recognizable and instantly creates scale within the sketch.

2. Sun
The sun’s direction was an important consideration for Bob from the start of the project. He’d often include the summer and winter sun to show how the design considered solar angles year round.

3. Lights
Bob always drew light fixtures. He was always thinking about how a building’s small parts would work together within the project’s larger idea.

4. Systems
Even at the earliest design stages, Bob always considered a building’s systems and drew gutters, fans, and ducts in even the quickest sketches. He constantly thought about the movement of light and air and how the architecture could support passive heating and cooling.

5. The People
Bob would add people last, often on a separate sheet of tracing paper and in a thicker pen so they would “punch,” as he’d say. He kept a folder of photocopies of magazines and photos, and in earlier presentation drawings, would collage them onto ink and Mylar.


The exhibit Anatomy of Sketch: The Thinking Hand of Bob Hull will open January 2017 at Gould Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle.