Drawings for the US Embassy Moscow
13 February - 28 February 2018
Open 2pm - 5pm; Monday - Saturday, most days.
To mark the opening of the new US Embassy London in Nine Elms, Pushkin House and the Drawing Matter Trust present a pop-up exhibition of the recently acquired drawings of the US Embassy Moscow, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Pushkin House, the UK's oldest independent Russian cultural centre will present for two weeks a stunning series of drawings by the architectural illustrator Carlos Diniz from the early 1970s. These drawings show the US creating a micro-environment for its embassy – a feature that characterizes later examples of the typology including Nine Elms.
The enclosure of the US Embassy Moscow suggested in the drawings would become more pronounced when construction of the embassy became mired in controversy however when surveillance analysts discovered that bugs had been embedded by Soviet workers in the pre-cast concrete. Work was halted in 1985 and only completed in 2000 following the demolition and replacement of upper sections of the building to create secure environments for the diplomatic mission. Diniz’s drawings on behalf of SOM, capture a more innocent world. The building’s architect Charles Edward Bassett imagined it as an elite campus, like a research university. The beautiful drawings show how the architects were attempting to please both their client the US State Department, and Soviet officials in Moscow who had to approve the project.
Carlos Diniz was one of the pioneers of architectural visualisation- the skill of taking architects’ plans and presenting them as perspectives of fully landscaped, occupied buildings. Born in Beverley Hills, he brought the pizazz of Hollywood to architectural drawing, working in his long career with the Pritzker prize winning architect Frank Gehry and Walt Disney amongst many others. Although he was a technical innovator, co-opting printing techniques from movie poster design to bring colour to his drawings, he was also an incredible draughtsman. His work for the US Embassy Moscow shows also his subtle skills as a diplomat of architectural design. His work has recently been acquired by Drawing Matter, a UK-based charitable foundation that promotes the discussion of architectural drawing.
Fiction and reality in Moscow: Carlos Diniz’s Drawings for the US Embassy Moscow. Thursday, 22 February, 7pm
In conjunction with the exhibition of illustrator Carlos Diniz’s drawings of the US Embassy Moscow, Tim Abrahams gives a lecture on the significance of his work. Diniz was a key pioneer in developing the specialised role of illustrator, an individual dedicated to creating seductive images which would convince clients, planners and the public that a particular scheme created by an architect should be built. No building better exposes the gap between aspiration and reality than the US Embassy in Moscow designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill architecture firm. Diniz’s illustrations captures the attempt by the design architect Charles Edward Bassett to create an idealised American community in the centre of Moscow. Tim Abrahams who writes about architecture for The Economist will explore where this idealised settlement emerged from and how it was confounded by the politics of the Cold War and urban realities.