19th & 20th Century Architecture: Course Summary

Jessica Jae Ainsworth-Truong

| ID3421 19th and 20th Century Architecture | Course Summary |

This summary reflects my personal approach to the course and is based on the course description and competencies outlined by The Art Institutes International Minnesota.

This course focuses on architecture of the last two centuries and the theories that drive design.  Students have been addressed to period design in a previous class, this one goes beyond style into the philosophical, technical, and personal reasons behind why buildings look and function the way that they do.

Overarching Course Goals.

Cultivate the student’s appreciation for design.  By looking at theory, and really trying to explain the ideas behind modernism, postmodernism, or deconstructivism, we can see buildings for all that they really are.  Many students can explain why they like a place aesthetically, but often have trouble discussing it intellectually.  Introducing them to greater concepts in design not only aids in their appreciation, but enriches their own design approach.

The students learn to apply knowledge in a critical way.  After lecture and discussion, they are asked to communicate how these ideas are or could be found in architecture.  They are asked to analyze and assess buildings through writing, theories through sketching, and specific architects and their work through verbal presentation.  In each of these assignments, they are sharing their informed opinion, going beyond research into application.

Lecture format.

The lecture is chronological and addresses theory, technology, materials, and cultural influences through architecture.  We look at general theories, such as modernism and how they are specifically interpreted by individuals.  For example, modernism is defined and then discussed through the work of Gropius, Le Corbusier, and Mies van der Rohe.  We then look at how the theory may be interpreted differently.  In the case of modernism, which is focused on the universal, I show the students the work of Aalto, Barragan, and Fathy to show how regionalism can enter in and influence meaning and aesthetic.


The assignments use various methods to show the students can analyze and communicate about design within a set framework.  The assignments cover many communication methods to allow different skill sets to shine.  They write four essays discussing buildings in their cultural and theoretical context.  They sketch building designs based on their understanding of an essay written by a famous architect.  The also organize presentations to share an architect’s ideas through one of his buildings.

I love the discussions that come out of this class.  I enjoy it when the students light up because they are having an in depth, detailed conversation about something they are passionate about and are getting the opportunity to learn more about it.



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