Lebbeus Woods, Architect is an upcoming exhibition at SFMOMA that will explore the visionary’s career through 175 of his works. Here’s his 1987 graphite-on-paper Concentric Field, from the series Centricity.

Photon Kite, a 1988 graphite-on-paper piece from the series Centricity.

Unified Urban Field--another graphite-on-paper from the Centricity series.

Conflict Space 4 from 2006 was made with crayon and acrylic on linen.

Nine Reconstructed Boxes from 1999 are plastic models and ten sketches.

This untitled sketch for the series Nine Reconstructed Boxes is from 1999.

San Francisco Project: Inhabiting the Quake, Quake City, is a graphite-on-paper piece from 1995.

Co.Design

Sci-Fi Stylings From A Legend Of Architectural Fantasy

Lebbeus Woods drew complex worlds that wouldn’t be out of place in Alien.

"In my work, architecture is meant to embody an ideal of thought and action, informed by comprehensive knowledge of the physical world." Lebbeus Woods wrote those words in 2011, almost four decades into his expansive career as an architect, artist, professor, and big thinker. His name might not be one of the first to come to mind when considering the field’s bold-faced icons from the last half-century, but an upcoming exhibition at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will explore the visionary’s unique perspective through 175 pieces on display—many of which are intricate pencil-on-paper illustrations—that span his impressive, and somewhat unconventional, oeuvre.

Architecture is often considered a largely physical practice, and architects are judged on how their constructions inhabit a tangible, real-life environment. Woods, however, excelled at imagining elaborate structures that existed in a completely conceptual dimension. His complex speculations and strange drawings eschewed kitschy retro-futurism for something more complex, his creations tinged with a dystopian edge worthy of the finest sci-fi. As the museum points out, his output “lies almost solely in the realm of the imagined, proposed, and the unbuilt,” while “[opening] up new avenues for exploring, charting, and inscribing space.”

Sadly, Woods passed away last October at the age of 72, a mere two months after posting a goodbye of sorts on his blog, which he had been updating for almost four years. This exhibition should provide an integral primer for those interested in exploring his singular outlook.

Catch Lebbeus Woods, Architect at SFMOMA from February 16 to June 2, 2013.

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