Summer 2021

This is a web-based course offered in the second summer session. 
ARC s342R (70574) ARC s388R (70594)


History of Building Technology
As the discipline of architecture confronts the major social and environmental challenges of the twenty-first century, architects must grapple with the implications of technological choices in shaping possible futures. Drawing on methods in the history and philosophy of technology as well as Science and Technology Studies (STS), this research seminar will explore the history of select building materials, systems, and construction techniques and situate them within contemporary discourses of architectural production concerned with social and environmental justice.


In this course, students will consider the material circumstances of building technologies as well as the social and cultural ideologies historically embedded in these technological artifacts and choices. However, while this course interrogates past events and practices, it is not matter of finding discrete precedents or answers. Rather, this course aims to equip students with ways of thinking critically and creatively about past, present, and future choices and consequences. It encourages students to think about how past actors defined problems and solutions, why they made certain choices, who disagreed or proposed alternatives, and how choices were implemented in a particular place and time.

Although this course focuses primarily on “modern” building materials and systems in the American and western European context during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it draws key lessons from other periods and regions, and students are encouraged to explore alternative technologies, geographies, and periods in their individual work.