By pure co-incidence last week I was lucky enough to go to a discussion event where Sir Nicholas Grimshaw was one of the speakers, and to see Capturing The Concept, an amazing exhibition of his sketchbooks. The exhibition contains Sir Nicholas' sketchbooks from 1982 to 2007 (he averages about 2 a year) open at selected pages to show drawings and annotations representing his thoughts and ideas for ambitious projects like the Eden Project and the refurbishment of Waterloo Station, committed to paper for the very first time.
In his foreword for Mind Into Matter, Alan Powers talks about "the architect's role as a special type of thinker", a notion which really became clear as I pored over the drawings and heard Sir Nicholas talking about the space we were sitting in for the discussion. His comments about its aspect and light, its situation in relation to its surroundings, the flow of people around and through it, all demonstrated his immersion in all things spatial. Add to this the technical knowledge and visionary qualities which make it possible to transform an idea from a few lines on paper into an extraordianry structure which is not only beautiful but functional too, and one begins to get an idea of the special thinking which our great architects harness.
(Capturing the Concept can be seen at the Royal Academy of Arts from 6th November to 31 January 2010)