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|H T 7 1 2 0 A r c h i t e c t u r e / D e s i g n H i s t o r y B S p r i n g 2 0 0 6|
|B o s t o n A r c h i t e c t u r a l C o l l e g e ( B A C ) F a l l 2 0 0 5|
The course offers an overview of influential ideas and paradigmatic developments in the architecture and urbanism of
the modern era from the Enlightenment to post-WWII. It focuses on key figures, events, buildings, projects and texts representative of important historical currents. The objective is not to study particular buildings and architects in themselves, but rather to reconstruct the larger historical, cultural, political and intellectual contexts within which architectural ideas emerge. Rather than a linear development or some kind of “teleology” of modern architecture over a 200 year period, lectures seek to present alternative “clusters” of architectural history, primarily in Europe and North America with references to colonial and post-colonial experiences outside the so-called “western world”.
The course attempts to expose in depth historical and cultural parameters of what “modern” is all about. First, the term “modernity” encompasses all the major cultural and philosophical transformations rooted in the Enlightenment ideals of progress, scientific rationality and historical consciousness. Secondly, the related term “modernization” covers the phenomenal social, urban and technological transformation of the world, starting in the 19th century “age of empire” as historian Eric Hobsbawm has characterized it. Thirdly, these developments lead to “modernism”, the radical artistic and architectural currents unfolding at the turn of the century into the 20th whereby all traditional notions of aesthetics, program and production were challenged in an unprecedented way. In discussing all of these, the course will evoke Marshall Berman’s emphasis on the profound ambivalence of modernity: i.e. the simultaneously liberating and alienating nature of the great modern narratives of the last two centuries including those of architecture and urbanism.
At the end of the course, the students will have an informed, historically substantiated and critical understanding of modernity and its architectural / urban expressions –a legacy that still continues to shape much of the built environment today while being continuously transformed by more recent discourses.
The course is structured in a lecture/discussion sections format. Half of the three hour class period will be a lecture in Cascieri Hall; in the other half, the class will be divided into smaller sections for a more focused discussion of the lectures and the required readings. Lectures will be heavily supplemented by visual material, while discussion sections will focus on selected primary texts of modern architecture and urbanism. These primary texts will be available to the students as a reader package to be purchased. In addition, students will be required to buy their own copies of Kenneth Frampton’s Modern Architecture: a Critical History (1980) as a reference book (available at Barnes & Noble for this class). Marshall Berman, All That is Solid Melts into Air (1982) is a highly recommended book.
A major part of the course requirement will be writing very short essays in response to one of these questions, in at least five of the total ten weeks of discussion sections. Distribution of course credit is as follows:
-- Five (out of ten weeks of discussion sections) short written assignments (300-500 words max), typically in response to one of the questions that will accompany the required readings each week (50%). Students will be able to choose the particular weeks on which they submit written essays. However if they want to submit more than five essays throughout the semester they will be graded on the best ones. These written assignments are due the beginning of the corresponding discussion section.
-- Final examination (40%): in-school exam on the last week of classes but based on a set of take-home questions and essay topics which will be issued two weeks earlier to help the students to prepare in advance. There will be different types of questions in the exam (brief commentaries on selected slides, questions on keywords/ terminology/ key figures as well as a short essay type question) and the students will have a choice of questions that they can select from and respond.
-- Participation (10%): Active participation in discussion sections is an important part of the pedagogy. Credit for participation in the discussion sections will be at the discretion of the Section Instructors who will expect every student to contribute to the discussions regularly.
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