ARC 327R (00735) ARC 386M (01025)
This course carries the UT Independent Inquiry Flag.
Architectural criticism is as much an act of creation as architectural design. In a way, it reverses the design process by viewing the designed project, analyzing its parts and deducing the underlying intentions. The deduction of the underlying intentions is necessary especially in cases in which there is little communication from the designers with regard to their underlying intentions. With underlying intentions are meant all intentions including social and cultural ones. Frequently, architects express goals regarding cultural and ethical value systems, economic costs, technological performance, or they speak generally about the design's generating metaphors. Architectural criticism should be able to assess to which extent these aspects of value systems, costs, technological performance, generating metaphors etc. are factually realized in the designs. Beyond this comparative assessment, architectural criticism should also uncover the unspoken, suppressed or even unintentional qualities of a design. Architectural criticism is thus concerned with the context in which intentions are effectively translated into reality or not. As such architectural criticism is concerned with the degree of truth in the realization of conceptions, intentions, propositions, or theses into objectively analyzable, factual, physical materialization. Thus, while the individual act of architectural criticism concerns itself with a singular instance of design from conception to realization, a collection of architectural criticism reveals the ethical stance that this body of built work both constitutes as well as represents.
Architectural criticism is essential in enabling architects and the general public to evaluate architectural designs, preferably ahead of their realization. In the context of the broader debate on sustainability, buildings need to achieve a long lasting overall design quality which includes the broadest level of public acceptance as a means by which interest, care and maintenance become cultivated. Architectural criticism thus requires both a comprehensive approach to the political and physical context, design conception and material realization of a built phenomenon as well as a precise, concise, incisive analysis of these issues themselves. The seminar in architectural criticism introduces students to a method that encompasses description, analysis and evaluation. Architectural criticism, at its best, is neither exhaustive nor should it be exhausting, but an act of synthesis, thus paralleling the act of design.
There are three components to the course work: first, four short writing exercises; second, the collective work as a jury for the Student Architecture Award in selecting the best building completed in Austin over the past year; and third, an independently written architectural criticism.