The architectural drawings of the masters continue to draw high prices at auctions -- even charity auctions on eBay. Their sketches, as inspirations, have artistic value, or collector's value, as limited luxury goods.
In this way, architectural sketches have become like realistic art, luxury watches, printed books, newspapers, hand made pottery, baked bread or more controversially, fine violins. They've reached a "perfection paradox" where the early goals have been so perfectly realized with the help of technology that, in order to survive, the rationale and economics need to transform fundamentally.
Hand sketches aren't necessary to the new generation of architects. Some architects think with drafting software. They imagine and translate directly into digital form. Pencil and paper are entirely optional.
Graves waxes nostalgic for the human spontaneity and creativity of hand drawings:
As I work with my computer-savvy students and staff today, I notice that something is lost when they draw only on the computer. It is analogous to hearing the words of a novel read aloud, when reading them on paper allows us to daydream a little, to make associations beyond the literal sentences on the page. Similarly, drawing by hand stimulates the imagination and allows us to speculate about ideas, a good sign that we’re truly alive.Likewise, first-cut architectural models can now be created using 3D printers. The meticulous craft of model-building, which employed fresh graduates as they began their mentorship in a guild-like profession, has to some real extent already vanished, and the trend is likely to continue.
When I meet practicing architects today, and I tell them that I once studied architecture, but that I changed majors, many of immediately tell me I made the right choice. I can see in their eyes the alternate history taking shape, as they imagine they had chosen differently. Would they be earning more money? Have more secure employment? Be happier? Work shorter hours?
And yet they love architecture. As I still do. Even as architectural drawing and model building constitute an ever smaller part of the practice.