Lebbeus Woods & 8 Diagrams About the Future

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I discovered Lebbeus Woods in 2001 as I was beginning architecture school in Boston. One day in the office my coworker/schoolmate casually handed me a copy of Terra Nova and said “Hey check this guy out.”  Being a young man just starting on his path towards becoming an Architect; I definitely was not ready for this book.   The drawings were dark, repetitious and often felt like they came from another planet.

For weeks I wouldn’t let go of this $200 architecture book.  It had been borrowed from another coworker whom I didn’t really know so well.  I studied these drawings intensely not really knowing why I liked them soo much or really understanding them.

He was not a traditional architect. He wrote books, taught and never really built much. His architecture was fantastical, theoretical and beautiful. He was obsessed with how war affected cities buildings and structures.


I shook his hand in 2006 when he spoke at my college and had the honor of hanging all his renderings in the exhibition space.

Lebbeus Woods died October 30th 2012.   A few days before hurricane sandy hit New York City.  He was 72 years old.

8 Diagrams about the Future.

August 2010 Lebbeus posted 8 beautiful drawings on his blog.  http://lebbeuswoods.wordpress.com/2010/08/08/eight-diagrams-of-the-future/

He wrote:

I am putting forward eight diagrams—the very best, most accurately constructed diagrams of the future I am capable of devising—in order to help us know what it might be. Such knowledge may serve us well. Or it may not. Knowledge always cuts both ways.

To some of you, this might seem a variation on the Rorschach test, that is, an essentially psychological exercise. To others, it might seem like the mystical reading of tea leaves, or the entrails of a ritually sacrificed goat. Fair enough, but I should note that in both of those situations, the material is created accidentally, or—if you prefer—randomly. The eight diagrams are the products of conscious design.

I immediately printed these drawings and hung them on my wall in sequential order and looked at them each time I walked past them in my apartment. .

After about 2 weeks of looking at these diagrams, I started to feel that these drawings on my wall were talking to me.  The crazy old man was talking to me about the future and I wanted to respond.

I then proceeded to spend the next month frantically hand drawing a response to each one of his diagrams to complete the dialogue. I treated the back and forth between my drawings and his as if it was like a conversation between 2 people, just casually talking. Going back and forth.

Below is the conversation I had with Lebbeus Woods in 2010.   His drawings have the grayish background. Mine have the white.

About the author

Michael Riscica

Michael Riscica is a Licensed Architect who lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon, with his Labrador Retriever. He is passionate about helping Young Architects change the world. In his free time, Michael likes to take very long bicycle rides across America. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linked In.