People, Places & Things

Two section drawings of the Arcadia University Landman Library expansion (2003) in Glenside, PA, show spaces supporting both silence and dialogue. A librarian is deep in thought. A serious conversation unfolds. A professor waves to colleagues below. Students study, slouch, and gab. “Drawing inhabited spaces with people doing things is a way of engaging the viewer in the life of the place,” says Frances Halsband, and “a way for me to think about what is actually going to happen in each space.” All Drawings © Frances Halsband | Courtesy Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University (except as noted)

On the conversion of the historic Maria Mitchell Observatory into a new home for the Education Department (2009) at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, Halsband says, “The idea of keeping the stars, keeping the trace of the telescope, and filling the space with books all happened while making this drawing.”

On a visit to the Friends Seminary in New York City, in anticipation of the renovation and expansion of the Quaker school (2019), Halsband encountered both educational and everyday happenings in the historic buildings: a T-shirt sale in the lobby, dancers in a basement studio, students storing backpacks in lockers. Her section drawing captures and expands on the action as students and staff animate spaces—some open to the sky and others cloistered. Drawing Courtesy Friends Seminary

Halsband was “looking for collaborative spaces where students can gather” when she drew this axonometric of Pratt Institute’s Juliana Curran Terian Design Center (2021) in Brooklyn, NY, visualizing a master plan that joins three former industrial buildings long occupied by single-discipline studios. Groups of students are everywhere in this lively interdisciplinary environment: a circulation loop that doubles as pinup space, large studios, and a shared workshop. “Drawing,” Halsband reminds the viewer, “is a discipline for learning to see.” N