College of Architecture Shows How to Design an Icon

Before designers used computers to shape the curves and lines of automobile design, they drew and painted their dream cars by hand. Like great works of art, the color and curve of each fender and hood suggested the sexiness and swagger of Detroit muscle.

Renderings of images from the Golden Age of the automobile industry will be on display in a new exhibit at the University of Houston's Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture. "Designing an Icon: Creativity and the American Automobile" opens Thursday, Sept. 24 and remains on view through Nov. 21 in the college's gallery.

"This exhibit is a snapshot of something that's gone," Stephen James, exhibit curator, said. "These designs remind us of a more optimistic time in our history, but maybe they can inspire us, too. This is both a history lesson in popular culture and a chance to appreciate some beautiful art. We worked closely with the Louisville Visual Art Association to bring this exhibit to Houston, and we think there will be a broad audience."

The opening of the exhibit will feature a talk by William Porter, the former chief of General Motors Corp.'s Advanced Design Studio. Porter is responsible for the design of the 1968-72 GTO and 1970-73 Firebird and Trans-Am.

More than 90 images will be on display, most of them concept studies from the 1960s and early 70s, an era when the automobile industry emphasized speed and exotic styling. New designs were a closely guarded secret, prompting many of these renderings to be locked away even if they were never used. Some designers, through special permission or more nefarious means, retained their designs.

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WHAT: "Designing an Icon: Creativity and the American Automobile"
WHEN: Sept. 24 - Nov. 21 Opening reception Thursday, Sept. 24, 6 p.m. lecture, 7 p.m. reception
WHERE: UH Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, first floor gallery and archives

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