Architectural History II


ARCH 505




2017W Term 1: The Skyscraper and the Modern City

Joseph Watson

Image caption: Aftermath of the Great San Francisco Earthquake, 1909. Source: U.S. Library of Congress

The skyscraper has been one of the most defining, and divisive, features of modern architectural and urban histories. While tall buildings visually dominate the skylines of cities across the globe, this course argues that the history of skyscrapers is more complex than a succession of novel architectural objects. Lectures, readings, and discussions will explore how skyscrapers have both shaped and been shaped by aesthetic debates, financial markets, infrastructural developments, technological revolutions, environmental conditions, cultural aspirations, class stratifications, and gender relations, among other factors. By tracing these diverse threads from the late-nineteenth century to the present, students will develop a multifaceted, cross-disciplinary understanding of the skyscraper’s role in the history of modern architecture and the shaping of contemporary cities.

2017W Term 2: The Shapes of Suburbia

Joseph Watson

Image caption: Looking west on Madison Street, Oak Park, Illinois, ca. 1903. Photograph by Philander Barclay. Source: Oak Park Public Library

Suburbs are ambiguous landscapes. Their position relative to cities—socially, politically, and economically—transformed dramatically during the modern era. So too did their populations, especially in the Americas. Once home to noxious industries and social outcasts, they became the preferred destination for upwardly mobile, white middle-class homeowners. Despite this transformation, suburbs have retained often overlooked social, cultural, and functional heterogeneities. This course introduces students to the diverse histories of modern suburbs in Canada and the US and across the globe. In doing so, it asks students to consider the methods and motives of the architects, landscape architects, planners, developers, regulators, residents, office workers, and industrial laborers who have made and remade suburbia.

Architectural History II tracks the complex interrelationships of design, theory, practice, and representational ideologies that have influenced architectural production, dissemination, and consumption in the 20th and 21st century. It explores history as multiple histories developing concurrently or successively and architecture as an active agent in the built and imagined world. While primarily focusing on Western architecture, the course also includes topics in other architectural traditions.

You will explore architecture, landscapes, urban complexes, and technologies in the context of modernism and its critiques. You will develop an understanding of the social, technical, material, and political issues influencing architecture, and the ability to identify issues, global developments, and local variations.