The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

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fall 2008

ARC 388R:
History of American Architecture

Christopher Long


SOA students must have completed Surveys 1, 2, and 3. Upper-division undergraduate and graduate students from other departments are welcome to enroll with the consent of the instructor.

Description and Format

The history of architecture in United States has always been characterized by a remarkable—even bewildering—richness and diversity. Although various styles and approaches have dominated the country at different times, American architecture has fundamentally been a reflection of the same pluralism that distinguishes American society. Even before the arrival of the Europeans, the North American continent was the scene of an extraordinary multiplicity of building methods, forms, and ideas. Yet certain themes run through America's long architectural history: the attempt to respond to the unique American context, the desire to forge a distinctly American idiom, and the necessity of coming to terms with the changes wrought by rapid expansion and economic change


This lecture/discussion course will survey architecture in the United States from earliest times to the present day. The course will be arranged both chronologically and thematically, exploring such issues as the varieties of Native American building, the search for an architecture distinguishable from its European roots, and the attempts to respond to the rapidly changing nature of American life and society. In addition to examples by celebrated architects such as Thomas Jefferson, H. H. Richardson, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn, and Charles Moore, the course will also explore vernacular building and modern commercial architecture. Readings will be drawn from a wide variety of sources, ranging from standard texts and scholarly articles to statements written by the architects themselves.

Course Requirements

Students will be required to take two examinations, a mid-term (25%) and a final (50%); and write one paper (25%).