Understanding Architecture

Course Number: ART 101
Transcript Title: Understanding Architecture
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: February 17, 2016
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0


MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121.

Course Description

Introduces aesthetic, historical, and critical issues of architecture. Presents buildings, gardens, fountains, malls and public spaces in terms of experiencing, appreciating and understanding roles of architecture in the urban world and as reflections of human interaction with the sociopolitical and physical environment. The series ART 101 and 102 may be taken in any order. Prerequisites: MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Upon successful completion students should be able to:

  1. Recognize functional, structural, and aesthetic qualities in architecture and read visual and experiential elements, architectural and cultural styles, and symbols
  2. View the urban world "dynamically", that is, to appreciate and communicate simultaneously individual viewer response, the uniqueness of a work of architecture, its origins and precedent, its potential as an inspiration and influence on later architecture, and its relationship to a particular cultural moment
  3. Decipher architecture through understanding of historical, social, cultural, economic, and political contexts
  4. Generalize course content to other art not covered in the course so that he/she can understand and value the architecture of the urban world in all encompassing global ways

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)
2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Apply the knowledge, skills and abilities to enter and succeed in a defined profession or advanced academic program. (Professional Competence)
4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)
5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

The student will:

  • Comprehend, apply, analyze and evaluate reading assignments
  • Identify artwork and architecture, and relate facts and ideas about these works of art in exam format
  • Research, plan, compose, edit and revise short papers
  • Keep journals assessing learning development in and out of the classroom
  • Participate in class field trips

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • Theory and criticism in the history of the urban world
  • Pattern-based thinking and historical process
  • Various interpretations of art
  • Art and gender
  • Creativity and the impulse to make art and architecture¬†

Stylistic and Interpretive

  • Visual literacy
  • Architectural media and technique
  • "Seeing and knowing"
  • Iconography
  • The formal principles and elements of architecture

Social and Cultural

  • Other peoples and their histories, values, and culture
  • The urban world and economics
  • The urban world and the social fabric
  • The urban world and religion
  • The urban world and politics
  • Art and gender
  • Relationship of culture and style
  • Urban world and cultural transmission
  • Historical impact of art
    • The influence of architecture on ones own culture
    • The influence of architecture on relations with other cultures
  • Urban world and the architect
    • The impulse to make the urban world
    • The Gestalt of art
    • The role of the architect in society
    • Biography
  • Geography and its influence on architecture and culture
  • Artifact recovery, analysis, restoration, and incorporation into a larger historical fabric

Competencies and Skills:
The successful student should be able to:

  • Work creatively with art historical data, using it to develop principles of art history
  • Recognize and appraise patterns in historical phenomena
  • Assess the ways in which an object from the urban world is affected by our own vantage point
  • Recognize and discriminate among various styles of architecture
  • Trace the development of art from one period to another
  • Analyze formally works of architecture and appreciate the interrelationship of various elements
  • Determine symbolism in architecture
  • Employ iconographical nomenclature
  • Express the relationship of the urban world and culture
  • Analyze the "meaning" of the elements of the urban world through understanding of historical, social, and political context
  • Use specific terminology to describe the urban world
  • Transfer to a four year college and continue a course of study in the field of art history, fine art, anthropology, and history in general

Prerequisite Knowledge and Skills:

  • Oral and written command of college level English