Amherst College Architectural Studies for 2015-16
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.2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014
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 studio design exercises. The latter will be interspersed throughout the semester.
Limited to 25 students. Priority to majors, then sophomores. Spring semester. Five College Professor Arboleda.2015-16: Offered in Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Spring 2015
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.2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2014
135 Art and Architecture of Europe from 1400 to 1800
(Offered as ARHA 135, ARCH 135, and EUST 135.) This course is an introduction to painting, sculpture, and architecture of the early modern period. The goal of the course is to identify artistic innovations that characterize European art from the Renaissance to the French Revolution, and to situate the works of art historically, by examining the intellectual, political, religious, and social currents that contributed to their creation. In addition to tracing stylistic change within the oeuvre of individual artists and understanding its meaning, we will investigate the varied character of art, its interpretation, and its context in different regions, including Italy, France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands.
Limited to 30 students. Fall and spring semesters. Professor Courtright.2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2007, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2014, Spring 2015
203 Cityscapes: Imagining the European City
(Offered as EUST 203 and ARCH 203.) Cities, the largest human artifact, have been at the center of Europeans’ relationships with nature, gods, and their own kind since their first appearance. With the advent of capitalist energy, the European city went through radical change. The resultant invention, re-invention and growth of major metropolises will be the subject of this course.
We will discuss histories and theories of the city and of the urban imagination in Europe since the eighteenth century. We will consider Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, and St. Petersburg, among others, and the counter-example of New York City. We will study examples of city planning and mapping, urban architecture, film and photography, painting, poetry, fiction, and urban theory. And, we may study Atget, Baudelaire, Benjamin, Calvino, Dickens, Joyce, Rilke, Truffaut, Zola, and others.
Questions addressed will include: To what extent do those who would “improve” a city take into account the intangible qualities of that city? How do the economics of capital compromise with the economics of living? How does the body-healthy and unhealthy-interact with the built environment? How and why does the imagination create an “invisible city” that rivals the “real” geo-political site? Two classes per week.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Rosbottom.2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Spring 2010, Fall 2013, Fall 2014
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.
2015-16: 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.
2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2014
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. 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. The Department.2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Spring 2009, Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
220 Reinventing Tokyo: The Art, Literature, and Politics of Japan's Modern Capital
(Offered as ASLC 220 [J] and ARCH 220.) Tokyo is the political, cultural, and economic center of Japan, the largest urban conglomeration on the planet, holding 35 million people, fully one fifth of Japan’s population. Since its founding 400 years ago, when a small fishing village became Edo, the castle headquarters of the Tokugawa shoguns, the city has been reinvented multiple times—as the birthplace of Japan’s early modern urban bourgeois culture, imperial capital to a nation-state, center of modern consumer culture, postwar democratic exemplar, and postmodern metropolis. The course will focus on the portrayals of Tokyo and its reinventions in art, literature, and politics from the end of the Edo period to the present day. It will examine the changes that took place as the city modernized and Westernized in the Meiji era, became the center of modern urban life in Japan before the Second World War, and rebuilt itself as part of the country’s economic miracle in the postwar era. As the largest human cultural creation in Japan, one that endured political upheavals, fires, earthquakes, fire-bombings and unbridled development, Tokyo has always been a complex subject. The course will use that complexity to consider how to analyze an urban environment that draws upon Japan's long history, yet which is also one of the most modern in Asia.
Preference to majors and students with an interest in urban studies. Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2015-16.2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Fall 2010, Fall 2012, Fall 2014
242 Material Culture of American Homes
(Offered as HIST 242 [USP], ARCH 242, and AHRA 133.) Using architecture, artifacts, visual evidence and documentary sources, the course examines social and cultural forces affecting the design and use of domestic architecture, home furnishings, and domestic technology in the eastern United States from 1600 to 1960. In addition to providing a survey of American domestic architecture, the course provides an introduction to the study of American material culture. Field trips to Historic Deerfield, Old Sturbridge Village, Hartford, Connecticut, and sites in Amherst form an integral part of the course. Two class meetings per week.
Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor K. Sweeney.2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Spring 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014
355 Renaissance Illusions: Art, Matter, Spirit
(Offered as ARHA 354, ARCH 355, and EUST 355.) Artists such as Donatello, Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Leonardo, Raphael, Bramante, Michelangelo, Cellini and Titian, but also unknown artisans, constructed illusions imitating nature or offering profound spiritual connectedness, be it through the spatial grandeur of perspectival narratives on painted walls, in sculpture and the built environment, or through the expert crafting of precious materials for domestic and ritual objects. Art, artifacts, and architecture created for merchants, monks, princes and pontiffs in the urban centers of Florence, Rome, Venice, and Paris from the fourteenth through the sixteenth centuries range from the gravely restrained and intentionally simple and devout to the monumental, fantastically complex or blindingly splendid. Emphasis will be upon the way the form, materiality, and content of each type of art conveyed ideas concerning creativity, originality, and individuality, but also expressed ideals of devotion and civic virtue; how artists dealt with the revived legacy of antiquity to develop an original visual language; how art revealed attitudes toward the body and the spirit, expressed the relationship between nature, the imagination and art, and developed the rhetoric of genius; and how art and attitudes towards it changed over time.
Rather than taking the form of a survey, this course, based on lectures but regularly incorporating discussion, will examine selected works in depth and will analyze contemporary attitudes toward art of this period through study of the art and the primary sources concerning it.
Requisite: One course in ARHA, FAMS, or ARCH, or with permission of the instructor. Fall semester. Professor Courtright.2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
(Offered as GERM 360, ARCH 360, EUST 360 and FAMS 316.) What is performance? What constitutes an event? How can we address a phenomenon that has disappeared the moment we apprehend it? How does memory operate in our critical perception of an event? How does a body make meaning? These are a few of the questions we will explore in this course, as we discuss critical, theoretical, and compositional approaches in a broad range of multidisciplinary performance phenomena emerging from European--primarily German--culture in the twentieth century. We will focus on issues of performativity, composition, conceptualization, dramaturgy, identity construction, representation, space, gender, and dynamism. Readings of performance theory, performance studies, gender studies, and critical/cultural studies, as well as literary, philosophical, and architectural texts will accompany close examination of performance material. Students will develop performative projects in various media (video, performance, text, online) and deliver a number of critical oral and written presentations on various aspects of the course material and their own projects. Performance material will be experienced live when possible, and in text, video, audio, digital media and online form, drawn from selected works of Dada and Surrealism, Bauhaus, German Expressionism, the Theater of the Absurd, Tanztheater, and Contemporary Theater, Performance, Dance, Opera, New Media, and Performance Art. A number of films, including Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari, Oskar Schlemmer’s Das Triadische Ballett, Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, and Kurt Jooss’ Der Grüne Tisch, will be also screened. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.
Omitted 2015-16. Professor Gilpin.2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Spring 2014
363 Traumatic Events
(Offered as ARCH 363, GERM 363, EUST 363, and FAMS 370.) How is memory constructed and represented? How is it possible to bear witness, and what exactly is involved? Who is authorized to testify, to whom, when? Whose story is it? Is it possible to tell "the story" of a traumatic event? What are the disorders of testimony, and how and where do they emerge? This course will observe the workings of trauma (the enactment and working-through of collective and individual symptoms of trauma), memory, and witnessing in various modes of everyday life. We will examine notions of catastrophe, disaster, accident, and violence, and explore the possibilities and impossibilities of bearing witness in many forms of cultural production: in fiction, poetry, architecture, critical theory, oral and written testimonies, visual art, monuments, memorials, philosophy, science, cartoons, film, video, theater, television reportage, newspaper documentation, performance, online, and in our public and domestic spaces. We will study various representations of trauma, paying particular attention to events in Germany and Europe from the twentieth century, as well as to 9/11 and other recent international events. Material to be examined will be drawn from the work of Pina Bausch, Joseph Beuys, Christian Boltanski, Cathy Caruth, Paul Celan, Marguerite Duras, Peter Eisenman, Shoshana Felman, Florian Freund, Jochen Gerz, Geoffrey Hartman, Rebecca Horn, Marion Kant, Anselm Kiefer, Ruth Klüger, Dominick LaCapra, Claude Lanzmann, Dori Laub, Daniel Libeskind, W.G. Sebald, Art Spiegelman, Paul Virilio, Peter Weiss, Wim Wenders, Elie Wiesel, Christa Wolf, and others. Conducted in English with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.
Omitted 2015-16. Professor Gilpin.2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2008, Fall 2010, Fall 2014
364 Architectures of Disappearance
(Offered as GERM 364, ARCH 364, and EUST 364.) This course will address a number of developments and transformations in contemporary urban architecture and performance from an international perspective. We will explore issues including, but not limited to, trauma, memory, absence, perception, corporeality, representation, and the senses in our examination of recent work in Germany and elsewhere, and read a number of texts from the fields of philosophy, critical theory, performance studies, and visual and architectural studies, in an attempt to understand how architecture is beginning to develop compositional systems in which to envision dynamic and responsive spaces in specific cultural contexts. We will focus our research on the work of a number of German and international architects, performance, and new media artists, including Jochen Gerz, Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock, Horst Hoheisel, Micha Ullman, Shimon Attie, Daniel Libeskind, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Greg Lynn, Mark Goulthorpe, R & Sie(n), Axel Kilian, Paul Privitera, Hani Rashid and Lise-Ann Couture, Herzog and de Meuron, Archigram, William Forsythe, Jan Fabre, Rachel Whiteread, Rebecca Horn, Sasha Waltz, Richard Siegal, Michael Schumacher, Robert Wilson, the Blix Brothers of Berlin, Pina Bausch, Granular Synthesis, Sponge, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Toni Dove, and many others. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.
Spring semester. Professor Gilpin.2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Fall 2013
365 Making Memorials
(Offered as GERM 365 ARCH 365, and EUST 365.) This is a course about what happens to difficult memories: memories that are intensely personal, but made public, memories that belong to communities, but which become ideologically possessed by history, politics, or the media. How are memories processed into memorials? What constitutes a memorial? What gets included or excluded? How is memory performed in cultural objects, spaces, and institutions? What is the relationship between the politics of representation and memory? Who owns memory? Who is authorized to convey it? How does memory function? This course will explore the spaces in which memories are “preserved” and experienced. Our attention will focus on the transformation of private and public memories in works of architecture, performance, literature, and the visual arts primarily in Germany, Europe, and the United States. Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, the visual arts, interactive installation and/or the environment. Conducted in English, with German majors required to do a substantial portion of the reading in German.
Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Professor Gilpin.2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Spring 2009, Fall 2012
(Offered as GERM 368, ARCH 368, EUST 368, and FAMS 368.) This research seminar will explore conceptions of space as they have informed and influenced thought and creativity in the fields of cultural studies, literature, architecture, urban studies, performance, and the visual, electronic, and time-based arts. Students will select and pursue a major semester-long research project early in the semester in consultation with the professor, and present their research in its various stages of development throughout the semester, in a variety of media formats (writing, performance, video, electronic art/interactive media, installation, online and networked events, architectural/design drawings/renderings), along with oral presentations of readings and other materials. Readings and visual materials will be drawn from the fields of literature and philosophy; from architectural, art, and film theory and history; from performance studies and performance theory; and from theories of technology and the natural and built environment. Emphasis on developing research, writing, and presentation skills is a core of this seminar.
Preference given to German majors and European Studies majors, as well as to students interested in architecture/design, performance, film/video, interactive installation, and/or the environment. Conducted in English. German majors will select a research project focused on a German Studies context, and will do a substantial portion of the readings in German.
Limited to 15 students. Enrollment requires attendance at the first class meeting. Omitted 2015-16. Professor Gilpin.
Part of the Global Classroom Project. The Global Classroom Project uses videoconferencing technology to connect Amherst classes with courses/students outside the United States.2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015
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.2015-16: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013
390, 490 Special Topics
Fall and spring semesters. The Department.2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015 and Spring 2016
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
498, 499, 499D Senior Departmental Honors.
A full course. Fall semester.2015-16: Offered in Fall 2015
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014