Undergraduate Courses

Introduction to Urban Studies

This course will examine different crises confronting cities in the 21st century. Topics will range from informal settlements, to immigration, terrorism, shrinking population, sprawl, rising seas, affordable housing, gentrification, smart cities. The range of cities will include Los Angles, New Orleans, Paris, Logos, Caracas, Havana, New York, Hong Kong, Dubai among others.


This course approaches drawing as a way of thinking and seeing. Students will be introduced to a range of drawing issues, as well as a variety of media, including charcoal, graphite, ink, oil stick, collage, string, wire and clay. Subject matter includes still life, the figure, landscape and architecture. Representation, abstraction and working from imagination will be explored. A structured independent project will be completed at the end of the term.

Designing Sustainable Systems: Demonstrating the potential of sustainable design thinking

Integrating the process of design and system thinking with an understanding of fundamental environmental and societal principals of sustainability is necessary to enact sustainable societal changes. This course starts with a study of the science related to sustainability and how open-ended sustainable development problems can be addressed through a process of design, and leads to a major group design project focused on devising and demonstrating an opportunity for sustainability on campus. Fabrication, simulation, sensor and graphical tools will be incorporated into the design process learning and deployed in precept.

Introduction to Architectural Design

The first in a series of design studios offered to students interested in majoring in architecture. The course will introduce architecture as an "impure'' plastic art, inseparable from a network of forces acting upon it. The student will be confronted with progressively complex exercises involving spatial relations in two dimensions, three dimensions, and time. The course will stress experimentation while providing an analytical and creative framework to develop an understanding of structure and materials as well as necessary skills in drawing and model making. Two three-hour studios with lectures included.


An introduction to the materials and methods of painting. The areas to be covered are color and its interaction, the use of form and scale, painting from a model, painting objects with a concern for their mass and interaction with light.

Geometry and Architectural Representation

This course sets out two goals: the first is to understand the theories and techniques of geometry in architectural representation; the second is to develop the student's drawing sensibilities through 5 thematic drawing projects engaging both digital and manual techniques. Each new theme will be introduced through a lecture, tutorial, and discussion including a number of specific readings related to the topic at hand. The second class will be an individual desk crit to discuss the development of each drawing project. The third class will consist of a group pin-up review of each drawing experiment.

Baroque Art and Architecture

From circa 1580 through 1700, Western Europe experienced the division of the Christian world into Protestant and Catholic confessions, the centralization of power by monarchs, the development of the middle class and unparalleled colonial expansion. This course explores how artists and architects like Caravaggio, Bernini, Rembrandt, Borromini, Rubens and Velazquez responded to these and other cultural transformations. Through class lectures and the study of art in local museums, we will examine key themes such as artistic novelty, the affective language of religious art, the rise of new subject matter and the mobility of artists and objects.

Graphic Design

This studio course will introduce students to the essential aspects and skills of graphic design, and will analyze and discuss the increasingly vital role that non-verbal, graphic information plays in all areas of professional life, from fine art and book design to social networking and the Internet. Students in the course will explore visual organization through a series of focused, interrelated assignments dealing with composition, page layout, type design, and image. Hands on production will include an array of do-it-yourself printing and distribution technologies, from letterpress and mimeograph to photocopying and websites.

Architecture, Globalization, and the Environment

This course analyzes contemporary architecture and its relation to climate change and to social problems having to do with urbanism. Special attention will be paid to the erosion of public space, whether it is due to gentrification, gated communities, outright segregation, or to the devastating impact of war in urban zones in many parts of the world. We will study issues of sustainability, as well as climate justice and environmental racism. Architecture's complicities with regard to global warming and its squandering of fossil fuels are central to our approach.

Structures and the Urban Environment

This course focuses on structural engineering as a new art form begun during the Industrial Revolution and flourishing today in long-span bridges, thin shell concrete vaults, and tall buildings. Through critical analysis of major works students are introduced to the methods of evaluating structures as an art form. Students study the works and ideas of individual structural artists through their elementary calculations, their builder's mentality and their aesthetic imagination. Students examine contemporary exemplars that are essential to the understanding of 21st century structuring of cities with illustrations taken from various cities.

Structures and the Urban Environment

This course focuses on structural engineering as a new art form begun during the Industrial Revolution and flourishing today in long-span bridges, thin shell concrete vaults, and tall buildings. Through laboratory experiments students study the scientific basis for structural performance and thereby connect external forms to the internal forces in the major works of structural engineers. Students examine contemporary exemplars that are essential to the understanding of 21st century structuring of cities with illustrations taken from various cities in the U.S. and abroad.

History of Architectural Theory

This course offers a history of architectural theory, criticism, and historiography from the Renaissance to the present, emphasizing the texts, media and institutions that have supported architecture's claim to modernity since the late 17th Century. Architectural thought is examined in its social and cultural context as it relates both to the Western philosophical tradition and to design method and practice.

Instructors: Tamar Zinguer
Medieval Architecture

A survey of Western architecture and urban design from ca. 300 to ca. 1500 A.D, with a particular emphasis on Italy, Germany, and France. The aim will be to explore the major developments in religious and secular architecture in the West from Early Christian times to the Renaissance. Various aspects of architecture will be considered (patronage, functional requirements, planning, form, structure, construction techniques, symbolism, decoration) with the aim of attaining as complete an understanding as possible of architectural developments and urban design in their historical context.

Materials in Civil Engineering

An introductory course on materials used civil and environmental engineering. Lectures on structure and properties of construction materials including concrete, steel, glass and timber; fracture mechanics; strength testing; mechanisms of deterioration; impact of material manufacturing on the environment. Labs on brittle fracture, heat treatment of steel, strength of concrete, mechanical properties of wood.

Mapping Gentrification

This seminar introduces the study of gentrification, with a focus on mapping projects using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) software. Readings, films, and site visits will situate the topic, as the course examines how racial landscapes of gentrification, culture and politics have been influenced by and helped drive urban change. Tutorials in ArcGIS will allow students to convert observations of urban life into fresh data and work with existing datasets. Learn to read maps critically, undertake multifaceted spatial analysis, and master new cartographic practices associated with emerging scholarship in the Digital and Urban Humanities.

Ecologies of the Envelope

This seminar is aimed to develop knowledge about the principles of building envelope design, situated in a history of the envelope technologies. The course is aimed to research and discuss a new theory of the building envelope, able to replace the historical disciplines of the facade. We will teach the principles of insulation, waterproofing, air leakage, vapor barriers, ventilation, de-bridging, embedded energy etc,, trying to bring together technical and theoretical knowledge, into an ecological, evolutionary reading of building technologies.

Networks and Ecologies: An Interdisciplinary History of Environmental Design

The figures of network and ecology have been essential for visualizing social and natural systems. They have also been essential to innovation in design, and fostered connections to the natural and social sciences. This course will discuss the history of architecture in the 20th century through these connections, and trace a broad epistemological shift towards systems thinking - a mode of thought based on interdependence, feedback loops, and emergence, and rooted in interdisciplinary methods. The course does not require knowledge in any of these fields; it will also familiarize students with recent concepts examining environmental challenges.

Havana: Architecture, Literature, and the Arts

This seminar will study the urban setting of Havana in its articulation with literature, film, and the arts from the early twentieth century to the present day. It will explore cross-disciplinary continuities, the engagement with multiple pasts, the city as a meeting place for all the arts and crucible of social identities. There will be a mandatory trip to Havana during Spring break.

Instructors: Michael George Wood
Survey of Selected Works of Twentieth-Century Architects

This course is intended to expose the students to a range of major works, built and unbuilt, of architecture from 1950 to the present. This course will focus on these particular buildings as they open themselves to a textual analysis. These analyses are intended to open up issues such as criticality, autonomy and singularity as they begin to evolve in architectural building (as opposed to texts) in the last half of the 20th century. This course will concentrate on individual buildings not architects. Each analysis will be accompanied by an illustrated presentation and selected readings.

Topics in the Formal Analysis of the Urban Structure: Environmental Challenges of Urban Sprawl

As part of the search for solutions to climate, water and energy challenges in a rapidly urbanizing world, it is crucial to understand and reassess the role of exurban sprawl in the environment. This interdisciplinary course aims to add theoretical, pragmatic and cultural dimensions to scientific, technological, and policy aspects of current environmental challenges, in an effort to bridge the environmental sciences, urbanism and the humanities