Syllabus for ARCH 4443 History of the American Built Environment

University of Oklahoma + College of Architecture


Eleanor F. Weinel: Gould 168 - 325-2276 -
Office Hours: MW 10:30-12:00; T 3:00-4:00


17 Introduction: Why and Wherefore
reading assigned: Concise History, Chapter 1
QUIZ: Chapter 1
19 PoV: Looking at Buildings
21 PoV: Building Analysis

24 The Native Environment reading assigned: Concise History, Chapter 2
26 First Buildings: Roots in English Medievalism
28 Colonial Manifestations & Regional Influences

31 Carpenter-Architects: The Advent of Style
QUIZ: Chapter 2
reading assigned: Concise History, Chapter 3
2 Gentlemen-Architects: The Palladian Influence
4 Rationalism, Romanticism and Classicism: Thomas Jefferson

9 TJ continued
QUIZ: Chapter 3
reading assigned: Concise History, Chapter 4
11 Americanism: Charles Bulfinch and Benjamin Latrobe

14 Americanism: Robert Mills
QUIZ: Chapter 4
reading assigned: Concise History, Chapter 5
16 The More or less Greek Revival
18 The Picturesque: Downing and Davis

21 Revivals: The Discovery of Style
QUIZ: Chapter 5
reading assigned: Concise History, Chapter 6
23 1858 and All That: New Building Types
25 Technology and Style: A New Eclectic

28 Richard Morris Hunt and the Ecole des Beaux Arts
30 Henry Hobson Richardson: Turning Point


5 Frank Furness and the other Gothic Architecture
QUIZ: Chapter 6
reading assigned: Concise History, Chapter 7
7 Queen Anne, Stick & Shingle: American Individualism
9 No Class

12 Arts and Crafts and Architecture
QUIZ: Chapter 7
Reading assigned: Concise History, Chapter 8
14 Skyscraper East & West: William LeBaron Jenney & George B. Post
16 Shaping Chicago: Adler & Sullivan and Burnham & Root

19 The World's Columbian Exposition: 1893
QUIZ: Chapter 8
reading assigned: Concise History, Epilogue
21 The Mould of Fashion: McKim, Mead and White
23 The City Beautiful: Cass Gilbert and Paul Cret

26 The First Frank Lloyd Wright
28 California Contributions: Morgan, Maybeck, Greene & Greene
30 California Contributions: Irving Gill and Willis Polk

2 Factories and Fancy Houses: George Howe and Albert Kahn
4 The Now Famous Tribune Competition
6 Breaking Faith: Raymond Hood and Bertram Goodhue

9 Between the Wars: A Century of Progress
11 American Modernism: Stripping Classicism
13 International Modernism: Schindler and Neutra

16 Harwell Harris: The Architecture of Almost Nothing
18 Architectural Expression: Saarinen and the Third FLW
20 50's Modernism: A Brave New World

23 Modernist Space and the American City

30 60's Reaction

2 Conclusions: Now that we Know
4 Summary

11 FINAL EXAM 8:00-10:00


Required Reading:

Roth, Leland. A Concise History of American Architecture.

Recommended Reading:

Series: American Buildings and Their Architects:
Pierson, William H., Jr. The Colonial and Neoclassical Styles. (Vol. 1)
__________________. Technology and the Picturesque. (Vol. 2)
Jordy, William H. Progressive and Academic Ideals at the turn of the Twentieth Century. (Vol. 3)
_________________. The Impact of European Modernism in the Mid-TwentiethCentury. (Vol. 5)

Andrews, Wayne. Architecture, Ambition and Americans.

Condit, Carl W. American Building: Materials and Techniques from the First Colonial Settlements to the Present.

De Long, David G. et al., editors. American Architecture: Innovation and Tradition.

Fitch, James Marston. American Building: The Historical Forces that Shaped It.

_________________. American Building: The Environmental Forces that Shaped It.

Jackson, J.B. American Space.

Handlin, David P. American Architecture.

Heyer, Paul. American Architecture: Ideas and Ideologies in the Late Twentieth Century.

McAlester, Virginia & Lee. A Field Guide to American Houses.

Roth, Leland, editor. America Builds.

Scully, Vincent. American Architecture and Urbanism.

Whiffen, Marcus. American Architecture Since 1780: A Guide to the Styles.

___________ and Frederick Koeper. American Architecture 1607-1976.


Fleming, John et al. The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture.

Roger Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents in Architecture.

Markman, Markman and Waddell. Ten Steps to Writing the Research Paper.


ARCH 4443 - History of the American Built Environment
Prerequisite: END 2413 and 2423 or permission of the instructor

Survey of the American built environment from initial settlement and subsequent European colonization through the middle of the twentieth century. The integral nature of the built environment, the unique characteristics of the American frontier, and the heterogeneous nature of the American culture will be emphasized. Buildings, urban patterns and ideas will be studied, supported by examples ranging from the recognized standards to the commonplace.

To succeed in this course, the two most important things you can do are to read the text and attend class, in that order. The reading is intended to give you a base of information which provides the context for material presented in class. I will assume that you have read the text and so will not necessarily repeat basic information in lectures (that is not what they are for).

Attendance is required for two reasons. First and foremost, visual information will be presented in class that is not available in your text (and, in some cases, not in any text) so that the only way you can get all the information is by coming to class. Secondly, I have noticed a correlation between attendance and success in tests. This is particularly true for people who ATTEND, that is, stay awake, are actively involved in viewing the buildings, are thinking about what they are seeing and ASK QUESTIONS when they are uncertain about the information or ideas presented. Now, everyone gets sick or has a day when life seems too wonderful to waste or too dreadful to face, so three (3) unexcused absences are overlooked. After that you may pay a price because I will go to attendance sheets where final grades are borderline and consistent attendance indicates a degree of interest which deserves to be recognized.

The textbook will be considered the authority for basic factual information for buildings such as dates and name spellings. All textbooks interpret the facts as well as present them. While Leland Roth's book is the most unbiased history of United States architecture that I have found, I reserve the right to disagree with his interpretations. In the event that I present a different interpretation, you will want to know which of us you must believe. The answer is: neither. You should make up your own mind, which may involve a third interpretation: YOURS. Please do believe that all interpretations are acceptable, so long as they are supported by the facts.

If you miss a class, do not rely solely on the textbook to catch up. I recommend that you borrow class notes from two classmates and then review what you find there in the various sources listed under Recommended Reading. You may also want to consult these sources if you want to know more about any of the buildings, architects or issues discussed in class.

Four components will comprise your grade in the course: quizzes (20%), a mid-term exam (15%), a final exam (25%) and a term project (40%).

Quizzes (dates are listed in the syllabus) cover your reading in A Concise History of American Architecture . They are objective and intended to keep you reading and studying what you read. If you miss a quiz, you may make it up only before the date of the next quiz. It is YOUR responsibility to arrange with me for the make-up. There is also the possibility of unannounced quizzes in any and all class periods.

The mid-term and final exams (equaling 40% of your grade) will generally be a combination of objective and essay questions. They will cover material from both class presentation and the textbook. The purpose of the tests is to make you think about what you have learned. They test your ability to organize, support and communicate your thoughts.

The term project involves compiling the history and interpretation of a building. The project is intended to increase your awareness of the range and nature of the "facts" of architecture and to enhance your ability to discern significant architectural issues and interpret them through those facts. It is also intended to expand your knowledge of the methods of architectural research and scholarly writing. Because these skills are at least as important as any facts you will take away from the class, the project grade is given equal weight with the test grades.

Speaking of grades: I beg you to remember that grades do not measure what you know or can do. They measure what you know or can do in relation to what I think you should know or be able to do. In this sense any grade is not an absolute but a communication between me and you. When I evaluate your tests and papers, I do not take points off, I add them on. It is important to me that you understand what the letter grades used in the course mean.

C is the base-line grade. On an objective, 100 point scale, it means that at least 70% of the information you have given is correct. It means you have satisfied all the requirements in an acceptable manner. This represents the basic expectation of the course (the average that everyone is expected to achieve).

B indicates above average work (80-90%). It means that you have shown qualities of thought and/or performance that exceed basic expectations.

A indicates exceptional work (90-100%). It means that you have shown qualities of thought and/or performance that far exceed basic expectations. (We do well to remember that there is relatively less exceptional work in the world.)

D indicates below average work (60-70%). This means that you have not satisfied all requirements in an acceptable manner.

F indicates work well below average (less than 60%). It means that you have failed to satisfy all the requirements in an acceptable manner.

If, at any time, you have questions about requirements, expectations or grades, please come and see me. I am aware that I am asking you to work in ways that are unfamiliar and to think about material that is new to you. I want you to understand what is required of you. I do NOT want you to assume that you are simply doing more of what you have always done. I should like to think that this course is challenging in ways that will bring out your best work. (That means I think it is a hard course.) But I would also like to think that it is as hard to fail the course as it is to do well.

If you have any disability which would prevent your satisfying the requirements of the course, please see me as soon as possible so that accommodation can be arranged.

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