Reserve List

 Modern Architecture

Art 243/Fall 2000

Assignments and Guidelines


Oral Presentation

Architecture Log

Writing exercise 1:

Option 1: A critical response to architecture
The goal of this assignment is to explore your reactions to a building or space through a critical description and analysis of its formal qualities and composition.
Select a building or space on the campus or in the Village Commons, --that provokes in you a strong reaction, either positive or negative. Your first paragraph might be devoted to this purely subjective and emotional response (e.g. “As I entered the lobby, I was felt an uncontrollable urge to break into song...”). Then concentrate the rest of your essay investigating the how and why of this reaction. Pay attention to such factors as massing (vertical, horizontal, symmetrical, asymmetrical), spatial arrangement and rhythms, materials, color, textures, ornament. How do these specific characteristics coalesce to create an experience or visual effect? Do you think that your response was intended by the architect? If not, is it the result of the forms and spaces or the product of your own experience and associations?
Do not hesitate to use drawings and diagrams to support your exposition.


Option 2: My House
This assignment is designed as an exercise in description and analysis that focuses on planning, the arrangement of spaces, and their relation to function.
First describe the building--single family dwelling or multiple unit residence--in which you live in terms of its siting, basic exterior form and the disposition of the major interior spaces or rooms. Draw a plan of your residence.
Next analyze the rationale behind the layout of spaces. What patterns of movement and activity are shaped by the spaces and walls of the interior? Do you live in the house as it was planned--that is, do you use the rooms for their intended function?
Finally, consider your dwelling as a whole. What portrait does it convey,through its exterior appearance, its relation to the surounding natural or built environment, the character of the interior space, about you and your family?
Length: 3-4 pages
Due: September 29

Writing exercise 2: Reading and Writing Wright

In the first writing exercise, you dealt with the ways a building stimulates responses, frames activity, and inflects behavior. This exercise asks you to foreground an analytical approach as you focus attention on a project by Frank Lloyd Wright in his Buildings, Plans, and Designs (published as Wasmuth Volumes, 1910-1911). Through close looking at and careful consideration of the plan and elevation evaluate the character of the design.

In the plan:
how is space articulated and how do the various zones relate to one another?has Wright created a particular spatial focus? where is it? what kind of interpersonal/social dynamic does the plan seeem to promote?
For the elevation:
how does the elevation relate to the plan? does its composition logically extend the “footprint” of the
plan or is their a disjunction between the two? does the choice of forms or materials convey a message about the building’s occupants or its functions?

Finally, consider the way in which Wright presents the building in graphic form. Is there a “visual rhetoric” of Wright’s drawings?
Length: about 3 pages
Due: November 5

Architecture Log

Here are a few suggestions for the architecture log/journal/diary that you will keep during the semester.

1. There is no prescribed or required format. Have fun, be creative, self-expressive! The log may take any form you choose to develop--it may be a series of written entries and critical responses, it may consist primarily of visual material--your own drawings, photographs, photocopier creations, printouts from websites-- with short commentary, it may be assembled from newspaper or magazine clippings enhanced by your notes. (Do not vandalize library periodicals in search of material.)

2. You may select your material from a single source--for example, follow the New York Times this fall to keep tabs on current architectural events-- or you may range from newspaper to magazine to television, film, and the internet. You may focus on a specific topic--skyscrapers, houses, product design--or be all-inclusive.

3. In your commentary, briefly summarize the contents of the article or program, then evaluate the character of the building or design, the importance of the issue. Be alert to the expressed or tacit biases of the author--is s/he trying to make a point, attempting to promote a particular style or approach? You may also decide to organize your comments around a group or series of articles: for example, review the offerings in the New York Times for the week.

4. How many? You should find at least 1-3 pieces a week.

5. Looking ahead, at the end of the semester and your journal, write a short (1-2 page) overview on the current state of architecture and design. Imagine yourself as a witty and well-informed pundit appearing on "Nightline" to offer the nation your insightful take on architecture at the end of the millennium.

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