Opening Reception: Wednesday, March 7, 6-8pm
On February 24, Friedman Benda will open Lebbeus Woods: Early Drawings, offering a rare look at
original drawings by perhaps the most eminent visionary architect of our times. The exhibition brings
together more than 150 of Woodsʼ drawings from the 1980s. Many have never been exhibited before; they
have long been held privately, and mark an extraordinary voyage across far-reaching conceptual terrain.
For more than four decades, Woodsʼ drawings have expressed compelling ideas and portrayed
otherworldly scenes that suggest alternate histories and futures. With an inventive drive akin to that of
Leonardo da Vinci, Giambattista Piranesi, the 18th-century Enlightenment architect Etienne-Louis Boullée,
and Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger, Woods invites us to imagine worlds as they might be. His drawings
embrace decomposition alongside construction and ruin along with rebirth, presenting a heady brew of
politics, history, and graphic bravura that never fails to astonish.
The exhibition begins with drawings that reveal Woodsʼ formative interest in Romanticism and landscape.
These works are a prelude to the epic Centricity and A-City projects, two celebrated, quasi-utopian series
that explore the political nature of architecture and its capacity to transform the social order. The
trajectory continues with drawings from Aerial Paris and Underground Berlin, projects concerned with
reinventing metropolitan centers, and explorations such as Geomagnetic Flying Machines and
Geomechanical Towers, monumental structures that seem to emerge from science fiction as much as
architecture. The exhibition concludes with Woodsʼ proposal for New Yorkʼs Penn Yards, then one of the
largest undeveloped, and contested, areas of Manhattan. In a suite of sketches called, The Eleventh
Hour, Woods envisions how homeless residents would cobble together “freespace,” places that are not
predefined but nonetheless fully support their inhabitantsʼ life and aspirations. Seen together for the first
time, these sketches recall a film storyboard, while announcing what would become Woodsʼ signature
approach, in the 1990s, for reimagining empty, abandoned, or destroyed urban areas.
Lebbeus Woods was born in Lansing, Michigan, in 1940. The son of an accomplished military engineer,
he worked with Kevin Roche at Eero Saarinen and Associates before turning decisively, in the mid-
1970s, to independent, conceptual work staged through drawings, models, and installations. He founded
the Research Institute for Experimental Architecture and is a Professor of Architecture at the Cooper
Union as well as a lecturer at the European Graduate School. The author of many books and subject of
many exhibitions worldwide, his writings and drawings have inspired film directors, architects, and
dreamers of all kinds.
Woodsʼ drawings are held in numerous public collections, including the Museum of Modern Art, New
York; the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the
Carnegie Museum of Modern Art; the Getty Research Institute; and the Museum für angewandte Kunst
For more information, please contact:
Jennifer Olshin,Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Alice Higgins, Associate Director