This course is a survey of architecture in the United States. The organization, while broadly chronological, emphasizes themes around which important scholarship has gathered. The central purpose is to acquaint you with major cultural, economic, technological, and environmental forces that have shaped buildings and settlements in North America for the last 400 years. To that end, we will study a mix of "high-style" and "vernacular" architectures while encouraging you to think critically about these categories. Throughout the semester, you will be asked to grapple with both the content of assigned readings (the subject) and the manner in which authors present their arguments (the method). Louis Sullivan, for instance, gives us the tall office building "artistically considered" while Carol Willis presents it as a financial and legal artifact. What do you make of the difference? Finally, you will learn how to describe buildings. While mastery of architectural vocabulary is a necessary part of that endeavor, it is only a starting point. Rich or "thick" description is more than accurate prose. It is integral to understanding the built environment - indeed, to seeing it at all.
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