Architectural Graphics​

The following three pages are details taken from a fifteen page essay published in Architectectural Record, June, 1960. The text and picture editing are by Norman Ives.

These are the geometric sans-serif letter forms that played such an important role in the architecture of the 1920’s and 1940’s and can apparently never escape that context. The more geometric letters become, the less readable they are in a word configuration. Letters are symbols, and each should retain its own identity for maximum legibility. There can be no rules about which letter forms should be used on buildings, because each situation is different.

Below: cover of Architectural Record where Ives’ 1960 article, Architectural Graphics appeared.

The most successful solutions to the problem have been those in which the letter forms have been used in contrast to the building in scale, color, and texture—or by giving the illusion of being on a separate plane from the surface of the building. Such letters retain their individuality and their own vitality in much the same way that a good building is related to, yet separate from its site and surroundings. Obviously, it would be ideal if the architect could solve the problem of signs himself, but graphic design requires special knowledge and skills that he could hardly hope to possess. The wise architect will consult with a graphic designer.

The new shopping centers that are springing up in suburban areas give evidence of a serious attempt to integrate graphic design with highway and building. Another significant and exciting example which can be a lesson to the architect and graphic designer is Brasilia. Here the graphic design for the streets and buildings is being planned in relation to the total effect of the city, and the result should be attractive indeed. —  Norman Ives