During his nearly 30 years as an architect, Loretto has used many of the skills he developed while studying painting and drawing at BYU. According to Loretto, drawing sketches is often the fastest, most efficient way to generate ideas, despite the incredible capacity of computers in the industry. Sketching is also one of the most effective ways to communicate an architectural idea.
“I’ve been in meetings where the person at the front of the room, leading the presentation, may be very articulate, but they’re going on at length, using words to try to describe a visual-spatial concept,” Loretto said. “Meanwhile there is somebody seated at a corner of the table sketching an idea, working through a number of different ideas, and she pushes that concept sketch out into the middle of the table, and all the attention turns to that sketch.”
While technical skills have direct application in architecture, Loretto said the conceptual thinking skills he developed in the art program are equally important. Having a “big idea” in mind guides decision-making where there is more than one right answer. “Art school gives a person confidence operating in this kind of environment,” Loretto said.
For one recent project, Loretto helped transform the shell of a vacant department store coated in cement plaster into the marquee façade for a 12-screen cinema. With the goal to “turn the box inside out” and “break down the fourth wall,” the design team chose to replace the plaster frontage with a 30-foot-high window wall that becomes the screen, while the crowd inside becomes the show. A new canopy over the entry plaza—space previously occupied by a truck loading zone—becomes the proscenium.
As an architect, Loretto enjoys using his art training in a collaborative setting, where he works with a team to contribute to the community through building. He expressed gratitude for the opportunity he had to learn to see as an artist alongside inspiring and curious students and faculty at BYU.
Priscilla Stewart will present her research on place- and ecology-based education at the National Art Education Association’s National Convention, the premier conference for K12 art educators and university researchers