The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

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fall 2008

ARC 386K:
Theory of Architecture I

Lawrence Speck



Educational Objectives

  1. To introduce students to fundamental theories of architecture in the 20th and early 21st century.
  2. To help all participants in the course to become better designers producing stronger, more sophisticated work.
  3. To learn how to transfer the work of others (both writing and building) into fuel to enrich one's own design work.
  4. To help begin to clarify how individual students' values and backgrounds can influence their design positively.

Educational Approach

This will be a standard seminar course with presentations by the instructor and class discussions in early sessions based on reading assignments.  Toward the end of the semester students will be focusing on their own individual projects and papers which will be subjects of discussion in class.


The final grade will be based on four different areas of evaluation:

  1. 30% of the grade will come from "Think Sheets" and class participation.
  2. 50% of the grade will come from the Research Paper.
  3. 10% off the grade will come either from a student's Paper Presentation in class or from a Demonstrative Project tied to the student's Manifesto.

  4. 10% of the grade will come from the Manifesto.


Four primary texts will be required reading:

Kindergarten Chats by Louis Sullivan

Towards a New Architecture by Le Corbusier

Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture by Robert Venturi

Delirious New York by Rem Koolhaas

Additional articles will be handed out in class.

Course Outline

August 27 - Introduction

Begin reading Kindergarten Chats, pp. 15-142 (complete by Sept. 3)

September 3 - Louis Sullivan as Theorist and Practitioner

Begin reading Towards a New Architecture (complete by Sept. 10)

Think Sheet on Sullivan due

September 10* - Le Corbusier as Theorist and Practitioner

Begin reading Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture 

(complete by Sept. 17)

Submit Paper Topic Proposal

Think Sheet on Le Corbusier due

September 17 - Robert Venturi as Theorist and Practitioner

Begin reading Delirious New York, pp. 9-28, 110-131, 152-160, 235-310 

(complete by Sept. 24)

Think Sheet on Venturi due

September 24 - Rem Koolhaas as Theorist and Practitioner

Begin "Globalization" readings (complete by Oct. 1)

Submit Paper Bibliography and Project List

Think Sheet on Koolhaas due

October 1 - Issues Discussion:  Globalization and Localization

Begin "Sustainability" readings (complete by Oct. 8)

Think Sheet on Globalization due

October 8 - Issues Discussion:  Sustainability

Begin “Art and Architecture” readings (complete by Oct. 15)

Submit application to make Paper Presentation or do 

Demonstrative Project

Think Sheet on Sustainability due

October 15 - Issues Discussion:  Art and Architecture

Begin "Aesthetics" readings (complete by Oct. 22)

Submit Paper “Notes”

Think Sheet on Art and Architecture due

October 22 - Issues Discussion:  Aesthetics

Think Sheet on Aesthetics due

October 29 - Paper Presentations I

November 5 - Paper Presentations II

November 12 - Paper Presentations III

November 19 - Paper Presentations IV 

November 26 - Holiday

All papers due by Nov. 26

December 3 - Closing/Overview

Manifestoes and Demonstrated Projects due

* May move to alternate evening.