part two: beginnings

"The Vitruvian Man (L'uomo vitruviano)" as drawn by Leonardo da Vinci (ca. 1490)



Although ARC 1015 is not a history course per se, it certainly does consider beginnings as a way to begin conversations and considerations of architectural developments, from the global to the personal scale. This week we will build on the presentation in class about the roots of the profession in the long-ago traditions of building designers in the ancient and medieval worlds through an examination of its most important survivor: Vitruvius, whom we meet through his book, De Architettura (alternately, Ten Books on Architecture). We'll also look to your personal histories in architecture through a creative writing project, and consider the ramifications of professionalization and historical consciousness on the development of longstanding vernacular traditions--some of which are gaining new interest among architects due to their potential to facilitate climate remediation.


one class in three parts

To fulfill social distancing guidelines, our class will be divided into three groups. Each week, all three groups will complete the same Wednesday-Monday material. For Tuesday meetings, one third of the class will complete asynchronous or synchronous online work while the other two-thirds meet in person in Hitch Hall. Please note your group and stick with it (at least, until further notice):

RED: name, name, name, name, name, & name
YELLOW: name, name, name, name, name, & name
BLUE: name, name, name, name, name, & name

Note: students who are in need of online work for one or more weeks should contact Dr. Amundson about changing their alignment with the groups.

learning objectives

At the conclusion of this part of the course, you should be able to:

  • xxxxx (REMEMBER--recall facts and basic concepts) define, duplicate, list, memorize, repeat, state
  • xxxxx (UNDERSTAND--explain ideas and concepts) classify, describe, discuss, explain, identify, locate, recognize, report, select
  • xxxxx (APPLY--use information in new situations) execute, implement, solve, use, demonstrate, interpret, operate, schedule, sketch
  • xxxxx (ANALYZE--draw connections among ideas) differentiate, organize, relate, compare, contrast, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test
  • xxxxx (EVALUATE--justify a stand) appraise, argue, defend, judge, select, support, critique, weigh
  • xxxxxx (CREATE--produce new or original work) design, assemble, conjecture, develop, formulate, investigate

for Thursday (11 PM)

Preparation for, and Practice of, Architecture in the Ancient World

Architectural Practices, part 1: Ancient and Medieval

Our main guide to the practice of architecture in the ancient world--specifically ancient Rome--is the architect Vitruvius. This Roman architect, who lived during the transition from the Republic to the Empire, would be lost to us (as most ancient architects are) if it was not for his extraordinary accomplishment to write a book that remains the single comprehensive writing on architecture to survive from antiquity. In addition to the wonder of its survival, it's also pretty amazing that it has been almost continuously in print since its resurgence in the fifteenth century.

For more background on Vitruvius, follow this link, which will take you to a short article accompanied by an audio file that is just over four minutes long.


For our in-depth consideration of Vitruvius:

  • Read Vitruvius
    • "The Education of the Architect" (pp. 21-24)
    • "The Divisions of Architecture" (p. 26)
    • The story of Dinocrates (p. 33)
    • "The Invention of the Arts of Building" (p. 34)
    • "First Principles of Symmetry" (p. 47)
    • "The Discovery of Symmetries" & "Discovery of Corinthian Symmetries" (pp. 54-55)
  • Contribute to the discussion board here (make sure to follow directions--half the class will post by Thursday; the other half will post by Saturday)

for Monday (11 AM)

Origin Stories

Vitruvius, which is an origin story for architectural practice and education, includes an origin story on the beginnings of architecture--a theme we find in a lot of theory, and which is a really interesting way to consider cultural values. For example, what does it mean:

  • For Egypt to describe the origin of the world as emanating from the squawk of a great bird who landed on a single mound of earth in the midst of waters of chaos, while Rome was founded as the result of one brother killing his twin? Or
  • For Hungarians to find their national origins in a single sacred/military ruler who gathered diverse tribes under his leadership while Americans tell a story of patriots gathering in Philadelphia to write and sign a document?

The stories we tell about our countries, our tribes (familial, social, religious, professional, etc,), and ourselves may have some root in historical fact but also say something about the values of their authors. What's the story you tell about yourself?


In class last week you wrote some notes on your personal architectural history. It's time to develop that into something more formal. Write a few short paragraphs that can each be illustrated by images that you pull from your own records or from an online search.

  • post it to Instagram

for Tuesday: on campus

red yellow blue


  • Personal histories
  • Concepts of professional vs. vernacular; assignments from the latter

Presentation & Reflection

for Tuesday: online

red yellow blue


  • Personal histories
  • Concepts of professional vs. vernacular; assignments from the latter

Presentation & Reflection

  • Architectural education and definition of "architect" since the Renaissance, including
    • Alberti
    • Bramante
    • Wren
    • Soane
    • Pugin
    • Walter
    • McKim, Mead, and White
    • Skidmore, Owings, and Merril
  • Paths to licensure
  • Paths of privilege (race & gender)