Drawing often appears early in the lives of architects. For us, it is a way of connecting with life, a way of projecting our aspirations. And so it may be with these drawings by a 15-year-old Frank Welch, growing up in Sherman, Texas, in 1942. They illustrate an essay for his high school history class, which he entitled, “New York: The Miracle City.” At a time when a radio was a piece of furniture in the living room, and Life magazines sat on the coffee table, one can imagine the boy at night, gazing at the glowing radio dial, listening to some distant broadcast from the glamorous world out there, and planning his getaway.
It is all in these drawings, the characteristics of Frank’s that we came to love: his wanderlust (LaGuardia Field); his contagious enthusiasm for the arts (Radio City Music Hall); his love of atmosphere (Rockefeller Center); his discerning architectural eye (St. Patrick’s Cathedral); his love of people and sense of humor (“Subterranean Squeeze”); his sensitivity to light (Statue of Liberty).
Though he never lived in Manhattan, something of The Miracle City lived in him. Frank’s dream to be a part of a cultural world came true, and he took us all along with him. For Frank Welch the boy, and the man………an A+.
Max Levy, FAIA, is principal of Max Levy Architect in Dallas.