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Art 179: American Architecture Shanken

U.C. Berkeley Fall, 2005

T and Th 12-1:15
Office Hours (Wurster 486): Thursday 1:30-3:30, and by appointment

*Walk-ins are welcome, but to guarantee a spot please sign up on the sheet on my office door ahead of time.

Blackboard: There is a blackboard site for this class; the username and password should be “ashanken.”

The first half of this course surveys American architecture from Colonial times to contemporary trends. Stylistic and spatial analysis is linked with the socioeconomic, political, and environmental influences on architecture, issues of originality, American exceptionalism, the influence from abroad, regionalism, and the role of technology. The second half delves more deeply into the history of specific building types – house, church, museum, library – grafting the earlier themes onto a history of modern institutions as they took shape in the United States.


*The general reading for all three units will appear at the heading. Additional and alternative readings are listed under particular lectures. The first are required, the latter are there in case you want to do extra reading. On occasion, short readings will be added to the syllabus. TBA = To be announced. All reserve readings can be found in the CED Library in Wurster Hall. I will also try to post readings on Blackboard.

Required Texts:

These will be available in the Cal Student Store; they will also be on reserve

David Handlin, American Architecture (revised edition, 2003)

Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, The International Style [1932] (1966)

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction (1966)

Kenneth Breisch, H. H. Richardson and the Small Public Library in America (1997). (N.B. This last one is an expensive text and we are only reading a couple of chapters, so you may want to read it on reserve).

Part I: Colonial to Romanesque Revival

Readings: Handlin (7-166) and T.B.A.

A30: Introduction

S1: Transplantations in the New World—Colonial to the Revolution

Alternative Readings: Whiffen (ch. 2, 3, 4, 5)
S6: Building a New Nation—New Republic to the Civil War

Alternative Readings: Whiffen (ch. 6, 7, 8)

*Formal Analysis due on Friday by 4:00 in my box in the Art Dept. office.

S8: The Architecture of Reconstruction/Victorian Architecture

*Additional Readings: TBA

Alternative Readings: Whiffen (ch. 9)
S13: The Cause Conservative: The American Renascence and the Gilded Age

*Additional Readings: TBA

Alternative Readings: Whiffen (ch. 11)

S15: Beaux-Arts Berkeley: Tour of John Galen Howard’s Berkeley’s

Optional Readings: I will try to put readings on Berkeley architecture on reserve

in the CED library.

S20: The Tall Building Artistically Reconsidered

Additional Readings: Sullivan, “The Tall Building Artistically Considered” (I will

try to put this on Blackboard, and on reserve in the CED library)

Alternative Readings: Whiffen (ch. 10); Goldberger

S22: Exam #1: This will be a short identification exam with one essay question that will be announced ahead of time

Part II: Progressive Era to Post-Modernism

Readings: Handlin (167-274)

S27: Arts and Crafts

Readings: TBA

S29: From the Ecole des Beaux Arts to Modernism

Alternative Readings: Whiffen (ch. 12)
O4: No Class: Rosh Hashanah

O6: Less Is More: Modernism in the United States

Additional Readings: Hitchcock and Johnson, (International Style)-R; and on Blackboard: Roth/Mies, etc.

Alternative Readings: Whiffen (ch. 13, 14, 15);
O11: Modernisms: Brutalism, Closet Historicism, Rational Expressionism, etc.

Additional Readings: On Blackboard/Reserve: Wurster; Reed; Jordy

Alternative Readings Jencks (Modern Movements in Architecture)-R

Note: See especially those sections that deal with the 1950’s and 1960’s.

O13: No Class: Yom Kippur

O18: Less Is a Bore: Postmodernism in the United States

Additional Readings: Venturi (Complexity-entire)-R

Alternative Readings: Jencks (What Is Postmodernism?, The Language of Post-

Modern Architecture, and Ghirardo (Architecture after Modernism)-R

O20: This day has been reserved for tours of the Architectural Archive and possibly a

presentation on library research. This is critical for the précis section of the

O25: Exam #2: A short identification exam with one essay question.

O27: Towards an Institutional History of Architecture

O29: Optional Saturday Tour of Oakland Architecture: details TBA

Part III: Typologies

*Each week will consist of a lecture on the given building type on Tuesday and short student presentations on Thursday, followed by discussion. Each Thursday you will hand in a 2-page précis on a specific example of the week’s building type. A description of these assignments is written below and a longer description will be passed out. At least one of these précis must be informed by material from the Architectural Archives on the second floor of Wurster. Interesting examples of these papers will be put on reserve and past examples may be on reserve, as well. The final exam will draw on your work.

N1: The House


  1. Spend an hour with Downing

  2. On Reserve/Blackboard: TBA: (Professor’s reminder to self: Roth/The House I, Roth/J.F. Harbeson/F.L. Wright; Mumford/The House: II; Banham

N3: Presentations on the house

*Precis on house due in class
N8: Houses of Worship: The Church in America


1. Sinnott, “The Puritan in His Meetinghouse” and Pugin,


2. Reserve/Blackboard: Cram, Stanton

3. TBA

N10: Presentations on sacred spaces

*Precis on a house of worship due in class
N15: Housing Books: The American Library

Readings: Breisch (chapters TBA) See Abigail Van Slyck's Free to All, also TBA

N17: Presentations on the library

*Précis on a library due in class
N22: Architectural books: This may take place in the library or the archives

N24: No Class: Thanksgiving Break

N29: Housing Memory: The American Museum

Readings: TBA

D2: Presentations on the museum

*Précis on a museum due in class
D6: Conclusions

D8: No class due to final studio projects


Final Exam #3: This covers the typology readings, lectures, and presentations. At least

one question will be drawn from the précis. I may opt to make this a take-home


1. One-page formal analysis (Sept. 6)……………………………. 5%

2. Exam #1 (Sept. 22)… ………………………………………… 15%

3. Exam #2 (Oct. 25)……………………………………………… 15%

4. Exam #3 (T.B.A)……………………………………………… 15%

5. 4 Précise (Nov. 3, Nov. 10, Nov. 17, Dec. 2)……………….. 40% (10% each)

(Each one is worth 10%; I will throw out your worst one if you request it, but all four must be written or you will lose credit)

6. Presentation and participation…………………………………… 10%

Expectations on written work

Every paper or précis should be lucid, well organized, thoughtfully researched (when applicable), and should argue a point. All papers should be double-spaced, typed, stapled, paginated. You will be rewarded for taking chances with ideas. You are expected to know and use proper citations in written work. For all matters of style, grammar and citation, please refer to the Chicago Manual or the MLA. A reference librarian can help you find these.

Your work must be your own. If you pass another person’s work off as your own or aide or abet another in this process, it is not just a breach of university rules, it is a breach of the social contract we have as members of an intellectual community. Ignorance of the policy or of what constitutes plagiarism is no excuse. It is your responsibility to be informed. You are encouraged to consult the following website for more information:

The university’s policies on plagiarism is as follows:

Achievement and proficiency in subject matter include your realization that neither is to be achieved by cheating.  An instructor has the right to give you an F on a single assignment produced by cheating without determining whether you have a passing knowledge of the relevant factual material.  That is an appropriate academic evaluation for a failure to understand or abide by the basic rules of academic study and inquiry.  An instructor has the right to assign a final grade of F for the course if you plagiarized a paper for a portion of the course, even if you have successfully and, presumably, honestly passed the remaining portion of the course.  It must be understood that any student who knowingly aids in plagiarism or other cheating, e.g., allowing another student to copy a paper or examination question, is as guilty as the cheating student.
Late paper policy

No extensions will be granted except in cases of emergency. DO NOT ASK ME FOR EXTENSIONS. If you have an emergency the proper procedure is to get an official extension from the dean. Late papers will be penalized one grade per day. An A will become an A- after one day, a B+ after two days, and so on. Please no fiascos of the uncooperative printer sort.


Building types emerge as solutions to institutional needs. As institutions change, so do building types. The central idea is to explore how your chosen building enters into a dialogue with the building type of the week. Each précis is an opportunity for you to explore a single building deeply and to analyze its inner workings. Look through books or magazines for an example that interests you enough to write a 2-page paper. It would be appropriate to discuss the plan, materials, issues of style, or the larger social, economic, or cultural context, in other words, those things that help you make sense of the building and pursue a claim. However, you cannot possibly discuss everything in two pages, so you will need to focus on one or two issues. Please include a photocopy of a primary elevation or façade, a plan, and a bibliography. The WWW does not count as a serious source. I intend to put the best précis on reserve and incorporate them into the final exam.
I recommend old issues of Architectural Forum, Architectural Record, Pencil Points (later called Progressive Architecture), and American Architect, an older and very beautiful magazine. The Avery Index of Architectural Periodicals is your best on-line index for finding articles on your chosen building or building type, but not all articles in the press are on it.


In theory, presentations allow students to command the classroom and to shape the course as they wish, albeit for a short moment. However, we have all sat through well-intentioned presentations that could cure a minor sleep disorder. Take this as a challenge and as a social responsibility to make yours memorable. This demands careful preparation on your part. A five-minute presentation often takes more time to prepare than a shorter one. It takes only five minutes to practice a five-minute presentation. Please take the time to practice so that you do not go over the allotted time. You may not read from a script, but you may use notes.
Two mechanisms guard against endless, boring presentations in this course. First, they are graded, and second, you are responsible for their content for the final exam. You will be graded on a combination of the following criteria:

  1. organization and whether you finish in the allotted time

  2. lucidity and care of presentation

  3. quality of your ideas

  4. your engagement with the building type in question, which may respond to the readings and lecture, or to your own independent investigations of the building type.

There are various ways to show images in class. You may use the AVRL (Audiovisual Resources Library), which has slides of many buildings. You will need to schedule an appointment ahead of time to learn how to use the library. If you choose to use traditional slides, you must tell me ahead of time so that we can arrange to have the right equipment in the room. You may wish to present digitally, using SPIRO ( or any of the other online digital resources, like If you do a digital presentation, you must also bring your own computer or arrange with me ahead of time so that we can put your images on my computer.

Contact Information

Andy Shanken (

510/642-7510 (o) and 510/652-9347 (h). Note on email: I consider email a distant third to personal contact and the phone as a form of communication. Please be considerate of the sorts of issues you address on email, reserving anything that can wait for class or office hours, or a phone conversation.


Kenneth Breisch, H. H. Richardson and the Small Public Library in America (1997)

Steven Conn, Museums and American intellectual life, 1876-1926 (1998)

Corn and Horrigan, Yesterday’s Tomorrows

A.J. Downing, The Architecture of Country Houses (1855)

Paul Goldberger, The Skyscraper (1992)

David Handlin, American Architecture (1985)

Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, The International Style [1932] (1966)

Charles Jencks, Modern Movements in Architecture (1973) – Selections

William Pierson, American Buildings and Their Architects (1978) – Selections

Edmund Ware Sinnott, Meetinghouse and Church in Early New England

George Thomas, Michael Lewis and Jeff Cohen, Frank Furness (catalogue)

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction (1966)

Whiffen and Koeper, American Architecture, 1607-1976 (1981)

*Here are the major textbooks on American Architecture. You may find them useful both as alternatives to Handlin, or as references when you need to cross-examine a building, movement, or idea.

Burchard and Bush-Brown, The Architecture of America (an old text that never gets to the point, but is probably the most poetic on the list)
Carl W. Condit, American Building (Offers a more technological spin on American architecture)
James Marston Fitch, American Building (a two-part text with a focus on the environmental and historical forces that have shaped American architecture by the “dean” of historic preservation)
William Pierson, et. al. American Buildings and Their Architects (an excellent four-volume series with case studies that follow a chronological thrust)
Leland M. Roth, A Concise History of American Architecture (a solid text that is still in

Dell Upton, Architecture in the United States (a new text, still in print that is quirky but

smart, written by one of the best historians of vernacular architecture)

Architectural Dictionaries

I also recommend reading with an architecture dictionary nearby. The art library has a full complement, but you may also choose to buy one. They are often available used on-line. The standard one is John Fleming, Hugh Honour and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture, which you can buy new or used. The most succinct dictionary, although it lacks biographical entries, is Henry Saylor, Dictionary of Architecture (out of print). James Stephens Curl, A Dictionary of Architecture is excellent, but it does not come cheaply.
Other Key Sources in American Architectural History, including required articles and books

Wayne Andrews, Architecture, Ambition and Americans-720.973 An27A

John J. G. Blumenson, Identifying American Architecture: a Pictorial Guide to Styles and

Terms, 1600-1945 (1977)-NA705.B55

Kenneth Breisch, Hobson Richardson and the Small Public Library in America (1997).-

Z679.2.U54 B74 1997
John Burchard and Albert Bush-Brown, The Architecture of America: A Social and

Cultural History-720.973 B892A
William A. Coles and Henry Hope Reed, Architecture in America: A Battle of Styles

-720.973 C679A
Carl W. Condit, American Building-624.109.73 C753AME
Joseph Corn and Brian Horrigan, Yesterday’s Tomorrows (1984)-put on reserve for 316-

E169.1.C777 1984

“Cultural Sensibilities,” Architecture: The AIA Journal 82, 2 (July, 1993): 53-65
A.J. Downing, The Architecture of Country Houses (1855)- NA7561 .D75 1969
James Marston Fitch, American Building: The Historical Forces that Shaped It-

NA705.F5612 1973

---, American Building: The Environmental Forces that Shaped It- NA2543.S6 F54 1999
James Ingo Freed, “The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,” Assemblage 9

(1989): 59-75.

Mark Gelernter, A History of American Architecture: Building in Their Cultural and

Technological Context (1999)-NA705 .G35 1999
Diane Ghirardo, Architecture after Modernism-NA682.P67 G49 1996
Paul Goldberger, Skyscraper- NA6230.G59 1981
David Handlin, American Architecture (1985)- NA705.H35 1985
Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, The International Style [1932] (1966)-

NA680 .H5

Ada Louise Huxtable, The Tall Building Artistically Reconsidered.- NA6230.H89 1984
Charles Jencks, Modern Movements in Architecture (1973) – Selections-724.9J41M
Fiske Kimbal, American Architecture (1928)-720.973K567A
John Knesl, “Accidental Classicists: Freed in Washington, Libeskind in Berlin,”

Assemblage 16 (1991): 98-101.
Spiro Kostof, American By Design(1987)- NA705.K64 1987
Sandro Marpillero, “The American Museum of Natural History,” Lotus International 93:

Lewis Mumford, Roots of Contemporary American Architecture (1952)- 720.973 M919R

Joan Ockman, ed, Architecture Culture, 1943-1968 -NA680.A57 1993
William Pierson, American Buildings and Their Architects (1978) *All four volumes of

this, including those by William Jordy-NA705.P5 1986

A.W.N. Pugin, True Principles of Pointed or Christian Architecture (1973).- NA440.P9

William B. Rhoads, “The Colonial Revival and American Nationalism,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 35, 4 (Dec., 1976): 239-254.

Carole Rifkind, A Field Guide to American Architecture (1980)- NA705.R53 1980B
Carole Rifkind, A Field Guide to Contemporary American Architecture (1998) NA712

.R54 1998

Joyce Henri Robinson, “An American Cabinet of Curiosities,” Winterthur Portfolio 30 (Spring, 1995): 41-58
Leland Roth, American Builds (1983)- NA705.A48 1983
---, A Concise History of American Architecture (1980)- NA705.R67 1979
Montgomery Schuyler, American Architecture and Other Writings 2 vols. (1963)- 720.973 Sch89Am
Vincent J. Scully, Jr., The Shingle Style and the Stick Style (revised edition)- NA7207.S38 1971

John Knox Shear, Religious Buildings for Today (1957)- 726.5Ar25R

Edmund W. Sinnott, Meetinghouse and Church in Early New England.- 726.5 Si66M

Phoebe Stanton, The Gothic Revival and American Church Architecture- 726.5ST26G-
Robert Stern, New Directions in American Architecture (1969)-NA712.S7
Louis Sullivan, Kindergarden Chats - 720.4 Su54K
Thomas Tallmadge, The Story of Architecture in America (1927)- 720.973T147S.2-Main
Paul Thiry, Churches and Temples (1953)- NA4600 .T47 1953
George Thomas, Michael Lewis and Jeff Cohen, Frank Furness (catalogue)- NA737.F84

A4 1996
Dell Upton, Architecture in the United States-NA705 .U78 1998

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction (1966)- 721 V568C
Robert Venturi, Learning from Los Vegas (1977)- 720.979.313V568L and NA735.L3V4

Marcus Whiffen, American Architecture (Art Reference)

Marcus Whiffen and Frederick Koeper, American Architecture, vols 1 and 2.-


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