McLean titled his prize lecture, "Venice: Sketches of the City."
I met McLean for the first time at the Swan Coach House Gallery. McLean is a featured artists in the show "Architects as Artists" running January 10 - February 25.
"Architects as Artists, Artists as Architects" seems to be a theme for Neel Reid Prize winners.
This piece in the Swan Coach House show is from MeLean's Neel Reid Prize work. Architecture fans will recognize the Scuola dei Tiraoro e Battiloro in Venice. Atlantans may recognize the model for the Joseph Rhodes House, the "Pink Palace" on Paces Ferry.
I spoke with McLean on January 30 at his home a few blocks from mine. He was ready for me with portfolio, map of Venice, some favorite books, and a friendly cat.
The map is the very one he carried on his prize trip.
"As a devoted classicist, Neel Reid gained much acclaim in his residential designs by his close adherence to the Palladian style. In fact Reid described his own mixture of classical detail as 'Georgian-Italian.'
"I intend to do a graphic study of Palladio’s church and palace facades in Venice and Vicenza. Through this analysis I will document how Palladio arrived at solutions for his facades through careful consideration of the distance and angle at which his buildings were viewed and approached."
McLean came to architecture after earning a history degree from Davidson. Though his dad is an architect, he was ambivalent about McLean's career choice. In any case McLean earned his Masters in Architecture from UNC-C. After an exhausting 7 years in "college" McLean spent a year teaching English in Europe, connecting to great cities, architecture and art before starting his career. He connected with Venice most of all.
As with most artists I've met, McLean told me he "was always able to draw."
But this book, Cercare Venezia by Renato Pestriniero and Neil Watson, was a major inspiration. From it McLean adopted the "loose" style he used for his prize drawings.
Santa Maria della Salute
Ponte di Rialto
San Giorgio Maggiore
Today at tvsdesign McLean is working on a convention center in Augusta, Ga. - it will be completed later this year.
The Value of Hand-Drawing
As a final note, I asked McLean if tvsdesign called on him for his artistic skill. He said occasionally but the best in the firm is Tom Ventulett, the "V" in tvs.
McLean went on:
"the Ventulett Award is an annual in-house competition where we bring in outside jurors from the profession (or related fields) to judge both project and personal work submitted by anyone in the firm. Its intent is to encourage the sort of hand-drawing that has become a sort of lost art over the years of increased reliance on computer imagery. And with the talent we have at the firm, it is a source of inspiration for all of us to pool our collective creative efforts together each year and simply take in the work in a gallery style format. I have managed to win a couple times in recent years."
Thanks to McLean Jenkins, Neel Reid Prize winner 2008