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Architectural Theory and Design Factors - ARC 350W

Prof. Joseph A. Betz, Architect


Course Outline

Readings: Link on Blackboard for download


  • Class participation, peer review and journals = 10% - 20 points (three strikes will result in an automatic 0  for the semester in this area and a 50 % reduction in your short essay grade)

  • Four (4) 250-400 word short essays = 40% (All essays will be peer reviewed) – 20 points each / 80 total

  • One (1) 3000 word min. term paper = 50% (Final term paper will be peer reviewed) – 100 points total

  • One take-home midterm essay exam = 10% (If needed; given only if the instructor believes the class does not know the theories for the term paper.  This percentage will be equally added to the final (10%) and the short essay (10%) assignments above if not used)

  • Note, this is your Writing Intensive Course in the Discipline.  You must get a C grade or better to graduate!

  • Please see the College Catalog for the current Farmingdale State College Grading System.

Midterm Essay Exam (optional as time allows)

Student Journals:

  • Students are required to keep a journal. Journals form the basis and starting point of ideas for the essays. They may be informally reviewed with the instructor when developing the essays.


Short Essay:

  • The short essay must follow the format listed: 
     -  Comparison of two articles pointing out similarities and specific differences.
  • Each essay should be developed from in-class journal writing.
  • Each essay must include the definition of either two new words or two words used in a new context. The definitions are in addition to the 250 words.

Student discussion of topics:

  • Students will be called on to present ideas in the readings and lead discussion..

Student Peer Review:

  • All short essays will be peer reviewed to improve the clarity of the student's work. Two types of peer review will be used, private one to one review of papers and public reading / group review of papers. Student papers will be revised from peer review comments and the student's improved grade will be averaged. These are friendly reviews!

Final Paper: 

  • An architectural work shall be selected (by the student and approved by the instructor) for analysis. A minimum of six readings will be used in the analysis. Your short essays will form the basis for developing the term paper. An outline must be submitted 2 weeks prior to the paper's due date. All papers will be peer reviewed and revised to improve the student's paper.

Formal Exams/Quizzes:

  • None! Architectural theory is about a thought process of critical inquiry and objectivity. Initial ideas will be formed through reading and discussion. They will then be developed and refined through the writing process. Emphasis is on a qualitative understanding of the material and its application in explaining architectural issues.


  • There will be two or three readings per week grouped around a common theme. The list of readings is listed below (not all readings are required).


Course Readings from Stein & Spreckelmeyer Classic Readings in Architecture:

There will be two or three readings per week grouped around a common theme. The list of readings is outlined below
(Note: not all readings are required and the Process of Architecture will only be partly covered)



1              Vitruvius (Marcus Pollio)"Book 1"


I. Architectural History and Theory

2              Kenneth Frampton "Cultural Transformation" and "Territorial Transformation"

3              Colin Rowe "The Architecture of Utopia"

4              Vincent Scully "The Architecture of Community"

5              Robert Venturi "Historical and Other Precedents: Towards an Old Architecture"

II. Architectural Forms

6              Geoffrey Broadbent "Architects and Their Symbols"                                                           

7              Alan Colquhoun "Historicism and the Limits of Semiology"

8              James Marston Fitch "Experimental Context of the Aesthetic Process"

9              Bruno Zevi "Listing as Design Methodology" and "Asymmetry and Dissonance"

III. Architectural Technology

10            Reyner Banham "A Breadth of Intelligence"                      

11            Peter McCleary "Some Characteristics of a New Concept"

12            Mario Salvadori "Form-Resistant Structures"

13            Louis Sullivan "The Tall Office Building Artistically Considered"


IV. The Urban Environment   

14            Delores Hayden "Placemaking, Preservation and Urban History"

15            Jane Jacobs "The Need for Aged Buildings"

16            Lewis Mumford "Retrospect and Prospect"

17            William H. Whyte "Return to the Agora"

V.  The Natural Environment

18            John B. Jackson "The American Public Space"

19            Kevin Lynch "The Waste of Place"

20            Ian McHarg "On Values"

VI. The Human Environment

21            Clare Cooper Marcus "The House as Symbol of Self"

22            Edward T. Hall "The Anthropology of Space"

23            Amos Rapoport "On the Cultural Responsiveness of Architecture"

24            Robert Sommer "Space-Time"


VI. The Design Process

25            Christopher Alexander "Goodness of Fit"

26            Peter Rowe " A Prior Knowledge and Heuristic Reasoning in Architecture"

27            Donald A. Schon "Toward a Marriage of Artistry and Applied Science in the Architectural Design Studio"

28            Frank Lloyd Wright "The Cardboard House"        

VIII. The Social Implications of Architecture

29            R. Buckminster Fuller "Accommodating Human Unsettlement"                       

30            Donlyn Lyndon "Design: Inquiry and Implication

31            Victor Papanek "Design Responsibility"

IX. The Architectural Profession

32            Judith R. Blau "Architecture and the Risk"          

33            Robert Gutman "Challenges in Architecture"

34            David S. Haviland "Some Shifts in Building Design and Their Implications for Design Practices and Management"

35            Wolfgang F. E. Preiser "Built Environment Evaluation: Conceptual Basis, Benefits, and Uses"

36            Ernest L. Boyer and Lee D. Mitgang "Profession in Perspective"

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