Fall 2023

Russian and Soviet Architecture and Cities, 1700-2000

Listed in: Architectural Studies, as ARCH-238  |  Art and the History of Art, as ARHA-238  |  Russian, as RUSS-238


Angela Wheeler (Section 01)


(Offered as ARCH 238, ARHA 238, RUSS 238) This course investigates the complex relationship between Russia, its imperial subjects—in the Baltics, Caucasus, Central Asia, Eastern Europe, and Siberia—and global cultures of architecture and city-building. Case studies from across this vast territory (one-sixth of the Earth’s landmass) demonstrate that, far from being isolated on a “periphery” or behind an “Iron Curtain,” the region’s architects and planners actively participated in complex international design debates. How could buildings incorporate new technology and still reflect local cultures? What role should the state play in improving quality of life for the urban masses? Could redesigned spaces influence things like crime and public health? Beginning with Tsar Peter I’s construction of Saint Petersburg, proceeding through the rapid transformations of the Russian and Soviet empires, and concluding with the post-socialist “transition” of the 2000s, we will explore architecture and urban planning as tools of empire, modernization, and identity. Through lectures, research, writing, and discussion designed around visual and historical analysis, we will follow the region’s architects and policymakers as they interacted with, critiqued, selectively adopted, and influenced international architecture and city planning practices.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester: Visiting Lecturer Wheeler.

How to handle overenrollment: Preference to Architecture majors, Russian majors, and Art/History of Art majors.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Using visual analysis and research on historical context to craft arguments about the built environment, identifying ways that different political regimes use architecture and urban planning to achieve broader goals, responding critically to primary (historical) and secondary (contemporary) materials, and effectively using them in crafting an independent research project, communicating ideas through class discussion and formal presentations.

ARCH 238 - LEC

Section 01
W 2:00 PM - 3:20 PM MORG 110
F 2:00 PM - 3:20 PM MORG 110


Other years: Offered in Fall 2023