First-Year Studies: Archi/Texts: Buildings and Philosophies, Environments and Interactions, From Periclean Athens to Contemporary Los Angeles and Beyond


Readings, lectures, presentations, and discussions in this course will focus on major statements made by architects, critics, and philosophers dealing with the built landscape from Athens in the fifth century to present-day Los Angeles and World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China. Authors include Plato and Aristotle, St. Augustine, Leon Battista Alberti, Denis Diderot, Adolf Loos, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wight, Martin Heidegger, Michel Foucault, Jane Jacobs, Peter Eisenman, Rem Koolhaas, Reyner Banham, Frank Gehry, and Thom Mayne. Readings will range from Aristotle’s Politics and Vitruvius’s Ten Books on Architecture (73BCE) to Loos’s Ornament and Crime (1909) and Koolhaas’s Junkspace (2000) and beyond. Emphasis will be on close reading of texts, historical context for ideas, and buildings that are prescribed, described, or proscribed by theory in practice. Environmental issues will be assimilated into historical and sociological, as well as scientific, context. The first assignment will deal with the uses of literature in developing a  critical theory; the second will be class presentations on theorists and attitudes toward architecture in the ancient world. Class will be broken into firms that will develop responses to texts and to a particular architectural program and project in second semester—the design of a retrofitted student center and campus plan for Sarah Lawrence College. Conference projects may focus on a variety of architectural venues: new towns, world’s fairs, religious structures of symbolic (or other) import, architectural NGOs, favellas, and utopia, both inside and outside the Western tradition.