Gerald Exline (1937- ) has been designing future cities for over fifty years. His work expands across the drawing surface in groupings of dense and sparse pen strokes that, taken in total, construct speculative visions of urban megastructures. Future cities have been the focus of his work since 1960 when he earned a bachelor of architecture degree at the Illinois School of Architecture at Urbana-Champaign. When he began teaching graduate architecture studios at Illinois in the late 1960s, his urban visions expanded in mural-sized drawings and were noticed by the University of Illinois Center for Advanced Study, where he was invited to a fellowship to explore speculative design of future cities in 1970. After three years in full-time architectural practice, he returned to teach at Cranbrook Academy of Art and rose to the Head of Architecture in 1978, during which time his work was exhibited in Michigan, New York and Los Angeles.
Initially challenged by University of Illinois Professor A. Richard Williams (1914-2016) to graphically represent new town developments in the Midwest, Exline expanded these commissions to move beyond representation into the realm of the speculative. Exline advocates “speculative drawing” to “look beyond what we know . . . we cannot know the choices only from what we have seen.” His future city drawings are intentionally ephemeral, providing glimpses of towers, plazas and skybridges that engage in a dialogue with the viewer’s imagination to complete the image. His work has been published in “Architecture and Urbanism” (A+U), profiled in the book Visionary Architecture: From Babylon to Virtual Reality, by Christian W. Thomsen, and exhibited in galleries in the United States and Germany.