4.605 | Spring 2012 | Undergraduate

Introduction to the History and Theory of Architecture


Paper 1

Select one building** and write a 5–7 page double spaced paper developing ONE of the four following themes. Remember that your TA is available for help and discussion. In each case, your paper will be evaluated in terms of

  • argument
  • richness and specificity of observations
  • coherency of writing

** MIT students in the class were given a list of buildings to choose from. This list is not provided for OCW users.

1. Context By context, we mean siting in the landscape or city. In this paper you should analyze how the building accommodates its particular context, which may range from how it is sited and oriented to the surrounding city. How do these design choices affect the internal planning of the building?
2. Plan and Section In this paper you should analyze the plan and section of the building. You can provide your own sketches. If you find published sketches or drawings that it OK, but you must acknowledge that. How does the plan ‘work?’ What are the principal elements. The same holds for the section of the building.
3. Materials and Light In this paper you will focus on the material choices of the architect. How are the materials used and why? What are their aesthetic qualities? How are details designed?
4. Use In this paper you can study how the building operates. Are there public and private zones, noisy and quiet zones etc? You can interview people about the building if you want or observe how they move through the building? Is the layout of the building successful in how it is used?


  • There might be some overlap between themes. If you discuss ‘use,’ you might also have to discuss ’ plan’ and so forth, but the idea is consistency.
  • This paper does not require any specific literature or ‘reading.’ Of course any reading that you do is welcome. However, anything that is cited, borrowed or quoted from any source (including from the web) must be fully cited!
  • Each paper will also be checked for plagiarism by the TAs and by a plagiarism-searching software program.

Paper 2

From the first five chapters in the textbook (3500 BCE to 400 BCE), or from sites mentioned in class, pick one building or set of buildings and elaborate on one of several themes… [Further details about this assignment are not provided for OCW users.]

Paper 3

Pick any lecture prior to this one (Lecture 16, Early Christian Transitions) or after. Write up the entire lecture from your notes and from the lecture images shown in class… [Further details about this assignment are not provided for OCW users.]

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2012
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments