Buildings, Texts, and Contexts III

This semester, Buildings, Texts, and Contexts III is structured as a special two-part course, taught by two different instructors.

Section I: Modernism. The Canon and Its Other
Amanda Reeser Lawerence
As a counter proposal to the narratives of genius and originality that predominate within the history of twentieth-century architecture, this course instead explores the unoriginal. Each week begins with a canonical work—Mies’s Barcelona Pavilion, Wright’s Guggenheim, Venturi’s Mother’s House, Kahn’s Trenton Bath House, Johnson’s Glass House, Eisenman’s House VI – which is subsequently unraveled and repositioned through its connection to earlier and other works, as well as through its confrontation with various texts. The aim is to challenge the specificity of their historical position while simultaneously reaffirming their significance as but one possible instance of a more general condition of appropriation, reference, and reproduction.

SECTION II: The City as Architectural Project
Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani
This section of the course analyses the history of urban architecture in its three-dimensional form and as a complex human artefact, using the lens of specific episodes of the history of the European city between the Baroque and Modern periods. It explores the influences that prompted the construction of this artefact and determined its shape: topography, climate and demographics, but also and especially philosophical and religious concepts, social ideas and ideologies, property conditions and the mechanisms of economic exploitation, and building technology. Intellectual, literary and artistic currents will also come into play with regard to their impact on urban development. The close reading of key examples from the history of architecture and the city will allow students to extrapolate their strategies to other historical cases as well as to contemporary urban projects: not as models, but as types.