Composition and Character

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* * * Thank you for visiting Composition & Character! My name is Samuel Lima. I am an alumnus of Judson University's M.Arch program and the Master of Architectural Design and Urbanism program at the University of Notre Dame. I am passionate about excellence in the design of classical and traditional architecture and the creation of new places worthy of the care of future generations!



The finished watercolor from the last post.

Future Watercolor

Sometimes it seems like a shame to do anything to a nice line drawing (even if it is transformed into a watercolor). For that reason I decided to post this one before I start painting! The drawing is of a house I designed last year. It is drafted on Arches 140lb cold pressed paper using a .3mm 2H pencil.



15x22 Watercolor Analytique of the Orangery at Hestercombe Gardens, Lutyens


Watercolor of US Custom House

Cass Gilbert U.S. Custom House, New York
Unbuilt version
Drafting: 8 hours Painting: 10 hours



The Tuscan Order, in green Florentine marble

The Corinthian Order from the U.S. Capitol Building rendered in a monochrome mix of French Ultramarine and Payne's Grey


AIAS & AARP Competition Entry

My American Institute of Architecture Students/AARP Livable Communities competition entry. The project is a mixed use (but primarily senior living) building arranged around a courtyard in an urban context. The design was awarded Honorable Mention in the competition this spring and exhibited at the AIA National Convention in San Francisco in the summer of 2009.


101 N. Spring St.

A new watercolor (10x14) of the entrance to the Lutheran Child and Family Services Building in Elgin. (6 hours)


In Memoriam

A measured watercolor of a tomb in Bluff City Cemetery, Elgin.


McKim Mead and White Orders

Three quickly drafted studies of McKim Mead and White variations on the orders.

Doric order from the Radcliffe Gymnasium, Harvard. Note the atypical combination of a Greek Doric echinus with an otherwise Roman order.
Greek Ionic order from the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences.
Corinthian (Tower of the Winds) order from the Franklin National Bank, Philadelphia.


Sketch Club

The ICA&CA (Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America) Midwest Chapter Sketch Club had its first outing this weekend in Chicago. Led by Matthew and Elizabeth McNicholas, we sketched several notable buildings on Michigan Avenue.



I recently designed a 100 square foot conceptual cabin for Deception Pass, near Seattle, WA. Its design responds to the arts and crafts traditions of the Pacific Northwest. The space is divided into two areas, interior and exterior (public and private). The interior is meant to be a comfortable private enclosure, with operable windows, a fireplace, and a reading seat surrounded by windows. The exterior porch affords excellent views and a place for visitors.

Watch a short fly-around of the shelter HERE.


Burnham Memorial Entry

Building of the Month - July

July's building is the David C. Cook Building in Elgin, IL. From 1901 to 1995, it served as a Christian publishing house. Two long wings on either side of the pictured facade hide the industrial printing buildings behind them. It is finished in thin Roman brick.

The building has a few unconventional quirks. First, the Ionic order is used for both the first floor portico and the second story. Generally, Ionic columns will be placed above Doric columns or below Corinthian columns, but rarely above or below other Ionic columns. Second, the upper floor has a column, instead of a window, at the center of the facade. Generally, an opening, not an object, will be in the center of a formal facade. Third, the soffit beneath the cornice is quite large, almost the size of a Prairie style soffit. While the building does have some strange features, it is well composed and worth a look if you ever find yourself in Elgin!


Building of the Month - April

This monthly feature will aim to shed light on little known and under-appreciated but nontheless beautifully designed architecture. Enjoy!

April's pick is a 12 floor condominium on the North side of Chicago's Streeterville neighborhood. 1550 North State Parkway was designed by Marshall and Fox and built in 1911. The building is an American adaptation (in that it is quite tall) of a Hausmannian apartment. While neither Marshall nor Fox studied at the Ecole de Beaux Arts, the influence of the Beaux Arts movement is evident in this design (as well as several of their other buildings in Chicago).

Most of the exterior cladding and ornament is terra cotta.The inner lobby is vaulted and gilded. This section of terra cotta is being replaced, note the steel structure and arch framing. If you have a suggestions for next month's building (and it's within visiting range) let me know!


Model Cities Pt. 2

More model cities! This time just in model Chicago. The aerial shots are from the top of the model Blackstone Hotel (I used my "I'm an architecture student, could I please see the building" all access pass to see the model penthouse suite). Click on the pictures to see them full sized!



Sketching around Chicago! Pencil and ink, about 20 - 30 minutes each.


Model Cities

I thought this would be a fun way to kick off this site! I took these pictures in Chicago and St. Louis, then used a tilt-shift method in Photoshop them to make them look like photographs of miniature cities.