Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Regulations & Requirements

Regulations & Requirements


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses


Architectural Studies

Advisory Committee: Professors Courtright, Rosbottom (Chair), and K. Sweeney; Associate Professor Gilpin†; Five College Associate Professor Long*; Five College Assistant Professor Arboleda; Five College Mellon Fellow Kolar.

*On leave 2015-16.

†On leave fall semester 2015-16.

Amherst College participates in the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) major with the unique requirements indicated below.

The FCAS major firmly places the study of architecture in the liberal arts by encompassing the history, theory, philosophy, design, and science of the built environment. The major draws on resources and faculty from a range of disciplines across the colleges, which include art history, cultural studies, history, literature, economics, urban studies, visual and media arts, gender studies, physics, sociology, and environmental studies. With the guidance of their Amherst FCAS advisor, Amherst students create an individualized course of study that may include, among others, sustainable design, urban planning, and architectural history, theory, and criticism.

An Amherst student wishing to pursue this major will meet with one of the faculty members on the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee to discuss his or her interests, intentions, and coursework options. Following this discussion, the student will submit a proposal that identifies a focus within the major, courses already taken, and those planned. This proposal must be approved by the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee, which will forward it to the Five College Architectural Studies (FCAS) review committee. In this manner, a student’s major coursework decisions are discussed and vetted first by Amherst faculty and subsequently by Five College faculty in Architectural Studies to ensure that students will have appropriate preparation and a strong plan for the major.

Once the student’s proposal has been approved, he or she will meet at least twice per semester with his or her Amherst faculty advisor to discuss continued progress in the major. Amherst students, preferably before senior year, will be required to take four foundational (normally 100 level) courses focused on architectural history and design, and five intermediate (normally 200 and 300 level) courses in which they develop their particular field of concentration. A senior thesis is required. Consequently, the Amherst FCAS major requires nine (9) courses plus two (2) thesis courses, for a total of eleven (11) courses. The student may choose to take a double senior thesis course (ARCH 499D) in the second semester of senior year, in which case the total number of courses required to complete the major becomes twelve (12). Before the second semester of junior year, the student must submit to his or her College advisor a significant research project (which may constitute a final project for a course taken) that demonstrates the ability to undertake rigorous research. This will constitute the comprehensive requirement for the major. Before the end of the junior year, the student will propose a senior thesis project and three potential advisors (two of whom must be Amherst faculty members) to the College’s Architectural Studies Advisory Committee; an Amherst College thesis advisor will be designated.

102 Introduction to Architectural Studies

This course is an introduction to the many facets of architectural studies: the history, theory, and design of buildings, landscapes, and sites. We will survey the history of architecture from the earliest human dwellings to the present and expose students to diverse aspects of architectural theory, while also introducing the basic analytical skills of architectural representation. Starting with the earliest forms of human habitation and ending with issues of contemporary residences, we will study the style, purpose, and historical context of buildings, landscapes, and planning, including questions of climate change. We will conclude by considering the college campus as a place of habitation. Students will develop their skills of speaking and writing about architecture, while also learning basic design skills: the sketch, map, plan, elevation, materials study, landscape setting, and site. Design projects are based on effort and realization, not on proficiency. Two meetings a week, one in seminar format, and one in studio format.

Priority given to Architectural Studies majors and first-year students. Omitted 2015-16. Five College Professor Arboleda.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2017

104 Housing, Urbanization, and Development

This course studies the theory, policy, and practice of low-income housing in marginalized communities. In particular, the class examines housing in the context of international development—the global project of reducing urban poverty through providing safe housing to those in need. We study central concepts in housing theory, key issues regarding low-income housing, different approaches for addressing these issues, and political debates around housing the poor. This is a thematic, comparative, and transnational course that uses specific case studies from all around the world. We study our subject through illustrated lectures, field trips, seminar discussions, documentary films, and visual analysis exercises. The latter will be interspersed throughout the semester.

Limited to 25 students. Priority to majors, then sophomores. Spring semester. Five College Professor Arboleda.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

106 Sonic Architecture: Sound as Anthropogenic and Experiential Medium

(Offered as ARCH 106 and MUSI 107.) Sound––heard or otherwise perceived––influences human existence, how we interpret lived experience, how we understand places and events. Yet our awareness of sound varies individually and contextually. This course posits sound as a medium that can be constructed and environmentally transformed. How do spatial acoustics inform and affect us? How is sound intrinsic to individual and social experience?

Built environments and architectural forms embody structured acoustic dynamics, whether their particular sonics are design features or ephemeral artifacts of spatial constructs. Musical and engineered sound products directly engage the human activities of sound-making and consuming, often abstracted from specific spatial environments, yet substantially linked to sense of place through cultural context. From vibratory mechanics to conceptual design, we will examine the material and immaterial ramifications of sonic structures and the structuring of sounds, their human interactive potentials and experiential implications. An interdisciplinary range of texts, works, and concepts will drive our exploration and analysis of sound as an environmental constant and fundament to human experience.

Students will develop two projects: a concise research paper that initiates a literature review and poses a perspective on a theme related to course discussion, and a design proposal for a space, object, artwork/installation, experiment or music/sound composition that will be presented to the class.  Two class meetings per week.

Fall semester.  Five College Mellon Fellow Kolar.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2015

135 Art and Architecture of Europe from 1400 to 1800

(See ARHA 135)

203 Cityscapes: Imagining the European City

(See EUST 203)

206 Auralized Architectures: Re-Sounding the Ancient Past

(Offered as ARCH 206 and MUSI 114) Enlivened with sound, ancient sites, structures, and musical instruments are given voice by archaeoacoustics research techniques. How can digital technologies enable us to engage these long-silent traces of past life? How might sonic re-constructions or "auralizations" be situated to communicate multiple interpretations of the distant past? How do sonic architectures relate to other archaeological evidence? We will examine such questions through cross-disciplinary readings and discussion of theories and methods commonly and uncommonly employed in archaeology and sound studies. Via computer laboratory and field exercises, we will explore how audio digital signal processing (DSP) techniques can be applied to questions of ancient humanity and musical archaeology. Comparative examples of local, present-day sonic dynamics of the built environment will additionally inform our inquiry.  Three class meetings for 50, 50, and 90 minutes.

Limited to 12 students. Omitted 2015-16. Five College Mellon Fellow Kolar.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014

208 Architecture of Traditional Societies

This class takes an ethno-historical approach to the architecture of societies that are under-represented in canonical architectural theory. We study the architecture of traditional societies through two supplementary lenses. On the one hand we look at the Euro-American perspective, studying how this type of architecture has been represented in classical architectural literature. The second lens is ethnographic and looks at traditional building from a locally informed perspective. Added to the seminar discussions, this class includes a visual analysis component. No previous architectural knowledge or special drafting skills required.

Limited to 22 students. Fall semester. Professor Arboleda.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Fall 2015

216 Digital Constructions: Intermediate Architectural Design Studio

In this intermediate architectural design studio we will explore the intellectual and creative process of making and representing architectural space. The focus will be to explore the boundaries of architecture--physically and theoretically, historically and presently--through digital media. Our process will prompt us to dissect 20th-century European architectures and urban spaces and to explore their relationships to contemporary, global issues. The capstone of the course will be a significant design project (TBD) requiring rigorous studio practices, resulting in plans, sections, elevations and digital models. This course will introduce students to various digital diagramming, drawing, and modeling software, while challenging students to question the theoretical and practical implications of these interdisciplinary media processes. Students will be required to participate in three workshop days outside of class time aimed at improving upon proficiency with digital tools. This course will combine lectures, reading, discussion, and extensive studio design.

Requisite: ARHA 111. Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Fall and spring semesters. Lecturer Jaminet.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018

242 Material Culture of American Homes

(See HIST 242)

355 Renaissance Illusions: Art, Matter, Spirit

(See ARHA 354)

360 Performance

(See GERM 360)

363 Traumatic Events

(See GERM 363)

364 Architectures of Disappearance

(See GERM 364)

365 Making Memorials

(See GERM 365)

375 The Poetics and Politics of Sustainable Architecture

This course interrogates the prevalent discourse of sustainability in architectural design literature, under the premise that "sustainability" is a politically-framed and context-dependent notion.

The main issue we explore is the often sidelined disconnect between the green design discourse vis-à-vis issues of poverty, migration, and modernization. On one side of this disconnect there is a green design imaginary—based on the idea that everybody, everywhere agrees with the global environmental agenda of natural preservation, greenhouse gas emission reductions, and alternative technologies. On the other side there are four billion people in the world living below the poverty line, and as they face socio-economic pressures, their interests are often at odds with the global ideals of sustainable design and development. If the global green imaginary celebrates exuberant forests, in the local experience the forests are viewed as wood for cooking.

By looking at canonical texts on green design, and analyzing these in light of current events and social science theory, we critically study how the sustainable design discourse relates to that disconnect. Topics include green building activism and so-called barefoot architecture, naturalism in architecture, and an ethno-architectural analysis of Third World villager experiences. We also study the discourse of green design and culture, the poetics and politics of intermediate technology, and, lastly, issues of "green colonialism" and the commodification of the sustainability discourse.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2015-16. Five College Professor Arboleda.

2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013

390, 490 Special Topics

Fall and spring semesters.  The Department.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Fall 2024, Spring 2025

498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors.

A full course.  Spring semester.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2025

Non-Language Departmental Courses

220 Reinventing Tokyo: The Art, Literature, and Politics of Japan's Modern Capital

(See ASLC 220)

Non-Language Courses


(See GERM 368)

Related Courses

- (Course not offered this year.)ARHA-111 Drawing I (Course not offered this year.)ARHA-152 Visual Culture of the Islamic World (Course not offered this year.)ARHA-214 Sculpture I (Course not offered this year.)ARHA-222 Drawing II (Course not offered this year.)ARHA-324 Sculpture II (Course not offered this year.)COLQ-237 The Senses in Motion (Course not offered this year.)MATH-105 Calculus with Algebra (Course not offered this year.)MATH-106 Calculus with Elementary Functions (Course not offered this year.)MATH-111 Introduction to the Calculus (Course not offered this year.)PHYS-109 Energy (Course not offered this year.)PHYS-116 Introductory Physics I: Mechanics and Wave Motion (Course not offered this year.)