Architectural History I


ARCH 504




2018W term 1: Becoming metropolitan: Architecture and cities in the long 19th century

Joseph Watson

We’re all familiar with the term “Metro Vancouver” to describe the landscape the extends beyond but remains within the orbit of downtown. The name implies a set of social, cultural, political, and economic relationships that structure how people, goods, and capital move through space. But how did this idea of “metropolitan” space take shape? And when? Under what conditions? To whose benefit, or detriment? How have the experiences of it changed—or not—from earlier periods in history? This course explores these questions through the lens of architectural history, using buildings and landscapes to better understand how cities and people became metropolitan.

The idea of “the metropolis” may seem like a 20th century invention—think of Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett’s sweeping 1909 Plan of Chicago or Fritz Lang’s ground breaking 1927 film Metropolis or the suburban commuter networks that remapped North American cities after World War II—but it has a much longer history. Our focus is on the period between the French Revolution and World War I. We will traverse the early modern world, using spaces like banking halls and commodity exchanges, slave markets and cotton plantations, department stores and factories, railways and parkways, colonial outposts and world’s fairs to assemble “the metropolis.”

We will explore these topics through lectures, readings, student presentations, and group discussions. Assignments throughout the term will build toward a final research paper that investigates a focused topic drawn from the course content. Attendance at all course meetings is mandatory. So is active participation in discussions and other activities.


2018W Term 2: Work: An architectural history of labour

Sara Stevens

Two notable groups are advocating for labor issues in the field of architecture today: Who Builds Your Architecture and The Architecture Lobby. Both have raised questions about the complex relationships in the professional world between the work of a designer and what happens in the field during construction. But the changing (and unchanging) historical conditions of labour in architecture, and the patterns, some set long ago that still shape these conditions today, are not well understood. This course will mine the scholarship in architectural history to expand the intellectual foundations for labour activism in practice today.

Architecture is not just aesthetics and representation, but also process and production, and thus directly related to questions of labour. In what ways does the work of an architect denote a certain kind of labour, and in what ways is construction choreographed through design? How have debates around authenticity and style found their justification in questions of labour? And how have architectural processes shaped material flows, social relations, and labour conditions? In the time period before the modernist movement, before the German Werkbund, and before the social movements that would bring significant change (women’s suffrage, decolonization, ending child labour, civil rights and ending Jim Crow, etc.) the terms for architecture’s relationship with labour and work were established. As architecture professionalized in the 1800s, what ideologies of labor underpin its foundation? Covering significant global content, the class will look at the domestic labor of women, slave labor camps, Chinese immigrant labor, indigenous labor and treaties, guano, and colonialism, as well as the expected debates around authenticity and style in the Arts and Crafts movement, the Paris Commune, industrial factories, and the history of practice in the 1800s to end with the enshrinement of efficiency in bricklaying techniques at the turn of the twentieth century.