Note: Students take 48-240 Historical Survey of World Architecture and Urbanism I and 2 other history courses
* Denotes history based courses that DO NOT count towards an Architecture History course
48-240 Historical Survey of World Architecture and Urbanism I
Reflecting the inseparable relation between building and human needs, this lecture course is not only a history of architecture, but also a history through architecture. This course examines architectural and urban design as a form of cultural expression unique to its time and place. The design, use, meaning and legacy of a building is conditioned not only by the architect's will or the patron's desire, but also by a web of technological, religious, social, cultural, economic, and political factors of the time. This course cuts a broad swath through time, geography and cultures, surveying critical episodes in the built environment of Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and the Americas from ancient to present times. This foundation course is the first in the architectural history sequence, and introduces students to the subject and skills of world architectural history. It is a prerequisite for all subsequent architectural history courses.
48-241 Survey of Architectural History II
This architectural history lecture course focuses attention on the time period from 1900-1968, and investigates the web of interwoven ideas and issues that characterize the modern age and modernism. We begin with a look at the "crisis of modernity" that plagued most of western civilization in the late 19th-century, and then survey the major movements of the avant-garde and other responses to modernity, until the advent of what came to be known as Post-Modernism. The emphasis throughout is on the art of architecture, studying how architecture is part of, and has influenced culture through experimentation and provocative thinking, even when the primary intent was functional, technological, social, political, etc.
48-341 History of Architectural Theory
Architecture is not only building, technology, drawings, etc., but also discourse, meaning, communication, and concept: or theory. This architectural history seminar will study in roughly chronological order some of the major theories and theoreticians of architecture, from Vitruvius, through the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the 19th-century, up to the modern era. Throughout the seminar we will chart the changing definitions of what constitutes "theory" in architecture, and how it relates to other writings such as criticism and history. We'll study in-depth how (if at all) the individual theory relates to the intellectual context and built works before and after. Students will discover how ideas reoccur , and even the oldest theories have contemporary relevance. The seminar will culminate with presentations by students on post-war (1945-75) theories of architecture. Work for the seminar will involve extensive readings, active class discussions, and a report on post-war theory.
48-348 Architectural History of Mexico & Guatemala
This course surveys the architecture and urbanism of Mexico and Guatemala during three critical periods of their architectural development: (1) the Pre-Columbian development of Mesoamerica, primarily Maya and Aztec (2) the Spanish colonial architecture and urbanism of the 16th-18th centuries, and (3) the 20th-century search for an appropriate regional modernism. When the Spanish conquistador Hernn Cort's landed in 1519 in what is now Mexico, he encountered one of the world's largest and most spectacular civilizations. The Aztec empire, however, was only the latest urban civilizations in a Mesoamerican tradition that stretched back more than 2,000 years. The ensuing European architectural and urban imprints can be seen as both a victory of colonialisms political, social, and architectural ideals, and as a fusion combining European practices with indigenous conditions and traditions. Centuries later, as 20th-century Latin Americans grappled with the challenges of industrialization, economic swings, and political and social revolutions, architects, planners, and clients again sought to reconcile competing visions of national and modern identities.
48-368 Rediscovering Antiquity
The course proposes a journey in the Mediterranean, with special focus on Greece and Turkey, but also travel through time. In fact ancient cities and archeological sites, from the hills of Troy to the archeological sites of Pergamon and Ephesus, to the cities of Athens and Costantinople/Istambul, will be studied not so much as signs of the important Greek and Roman past of the region, but as the object of late Eighteenth and Nineteenth century rediscovery. The rich vestiges of the mythical past of this region were then brought to the light, in the frame of complex and adventurous missions. The eyes of scholars, travelers and artists filtered and transformed the reality of the ancient objects and places, adding to their fascination and vitality and changing the way we perceive this legacy today. At the same time though, a new political agenda, new biases and new aims were connected with the rediscovery. These in turn influenced not only the way the past of the region was explored and the way the finds were studied and exposed, but also the cultural debate in the rest of Europe, with important effects on the architecture of the main European cities.
48-371 American House and Housing
The picture of the "American Dream" has typically included a single-family detached dwelling set within its own suburban yard. However powerful and durable that image is, the history of house and home in America is far more complex. This course examines the development of suburban house and urban housing choices circa 1850-1975. Over the course of the semester we will explore housing styles and types, including private single-family dwellings, public multi-unit housing, rowhouses and apartments. We will also examine the wider physical and cultural settings of American housing choices, including the symbiotic relationship between city and suburb. We will look at domestic architecture as both a designed object and as a cultural landscape shaped by class, gender, race, economics, politics, and fashion. Through the use of occasional field trips, we will use Pittsburgh as a touchstone for understanding broader national trends in the design of American housing.
48-373 Istanbul Constantinople
The course focuses on the urban history of Istanbul/Costantinople, one of the most complex and fascinating cities in the world and one of the richest from the point of view of cultural heritage, history and art. To make sense of the city many intricate layers we will delve deeply into chosen moments and episodes of the city?s history, analyzing emblematic events and the context of its growth and transformation, from the early settlement to its role as imperial capital ? Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman - to the making of the present day world city. Through the lens of continuity and change in Istanbul?s fabric, the course also offers the opportunity to discuss cross-cultural exchanges between the East and the West, Europe and the Middle East, and to consider some of the highlights of the peculiar artistic and architectural production that took place in the city. The course is based on lectures and discussions and requires personal elaboration, as well as a fair amount of reading and writing. Special attention and support will encourage the students to develop an understanding of historical methods, critical reasoning and a sensibility to the visual representation of the city in different media and throughout its history.
48-393 Gentrification: Race and Class in Urban History *
Through readings, documentaries, films, novels and engagement with gentrified or gentrifying communities, students will explore the complex process of gentrification from the perspectives of historians, political scientists, sociologists, economists, geographers, anthropologists and communities themselves. The discussion-based course will tackle the following interrelated questions: How is gentrification defined? What drives its development? What is its effect on existing urban communities? And, should it be encouraged as a matter of policy? Starting with a history of the term, students will examine the racial landscapes of gentrification and how culture and politics have both been influenced by, and helped drive the course of, urban change. In addition, students will investigate the various lenses through which scholars have studied gentrification, including the movements of capital through metropolitan areas, deindustrialization, the changing geographies of consumption, debates over privatization, urban policy, globalization, social exclusion and polarization, and community organization. Assignments require students to engage with neighborhoods undergoing gentrification by examining the built environment, the history and the people of gentrified and gentrifying areas.
48-440 American Regionalism
Despite the leveling forces of mass culture and globalization, the geographic and social diversity of the U.S. has created distinctive regional mosaics of landscape and architecture. Say ?New England? and images of English Pilgrims, town greens with white framed churches, and industrial mill villages may come to mind. ?The Southwest? conjures different images, perhaps of adobe pueblos, Spanish friars, arid ranches, and the color turquoise. The built environment of the Midwest, the California coast, the Mississippi Delta, and many places in between reflect particular regional identities that have been both unconsciously and consciously created over time. This course examines the historical development of regional patterns in the American built environment. It investigates how and why a region?s architectural identity evolved in the ways that it did. To what degree is ?place? something to respond to, to interact with, and to what degree is place something that is created? Our focus will be primarily pre-20th century when the forces of vernacular traditions were stronger, we will also examine more recent trends of regionalism as an aesthetic choice and a theoretical stance.
48-534 Architectural Theory Since 2000
48-579 Middle Eastern Cities: Case Studies from two centuries of Urban History *
The Middle East is home to some of today's most dynamic metropolitan areas, sharing with growing urban conglomerations in other areas of the world the need to address issues like burgeoning populations, the environmental impact of rapid urbanization, and post-disaster reconstruction, both natural and man-made.At the same time, the history of Middle Eastern cities is a finely woven tangle of cultural specificity and reactions to international models, presenting similar challenges towards preservation of urban fabric, integration of historical buildings in the growing urban body, and choices regarding the visual identity of the city. We will be looking at both cultural context and physical form of the contemporary city, and then apply the methods of urban history to gain deeper understanding of one specific aspect of urban culture. Students will be encouraged to look at large scale, regional effects of urbanization as well as smaller interventions within a given neighborhood, and to search for the interrelation between the two scales, while they consider continuity and change in the historical fabric of the city. The course will examine several of the region's significant cities in a case study model. Students will present to their peers their research findings for a given city and will prepare work that will culminate in a final project that represents a synthesis of their research. It is expected that students will respond in both writing and drawing, utilizing information design as a means of expressing their findings.
Instructors: El Samahy