Contemporary Architecture and Art

This course considers the forms, functions, structure, and historical and cultural contexts of architecture and urbanism through either a chronological survey from the ancient world to the contemporary era or through thematic topics. Please consult Department for more information regarding current offerings.

Overview: This course will introduce students to the history of architecture and urbanism through a global perspective that follows a linear timeline and a geographical approach.  Our goal is to understand the interconnections between the built environment (i.e. architectural forms and urban spaces) from the past as they relate to our new globally connected world. Contemporary architecture and art are can no longer be understood through one particularly historical lens of binaries, in that of “Western” or “non Western.” Our interconnected world allows us to travel across the globe and experience a cornucopia of lived and built spaces virtually or physically. We will begin our journey and progress rapidly through ancient times before slowing our pace at the beginning of the global, colonial world of the sixteenth century. The course culminates through analyses of contemporary building styles and practices that strive for carbon-neutral built environments. Along the way, we will explore historical and contemporary cultures from the Ancient Near East, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to identify an array of architectural terms, styles, building materials, and concepts.

Learning Outcomes:

This course is designed to assist you in:

  • gaining knowledge about artistic and visual cultural production within a series of diverse historical contexts.
  • Understanding the issues and debates pertaining to the study of art and visual culture
  • gaining familiarity with terminology, stylistic classifications, methods, and theories employed in the study of art and visual culture.
  • developing the ability to communicate orally and in writing the knowledge you have acquired about art and visual culture.



Each of you will be required to respond to six online participation assignments that can be accessed under the weekly participation tabs on Owl. You will be asked to address either a packet of readings, podcasts, videos, images, and/or specific questions relating to architecture and urbanism. 

These assignments will be completed throughout the semester. You are expected to the complete the assignment by class time. For example, Lesson 2’s content (Jan 20) will be released after Lesson 1’s lecture. Lesson 2’s content is due that week.,.

  • You post your response to the thread for that Lesson or that Week.  You will post to the appropriate cohort that you are assigned. Please proofread and edit each entry carefully before posting it to the class website.  
  • As this assignment is completed online, it affords you some flexibility to work at your own speed; however, all deadlines are strict.  If you’ve finished your assignment early, by all means post it early. 
  • Please note professionalism and courtesy to your fellow students, to the Teaching Assistants, and to the professor is highly recommended and appreciated. This not only pertains to appropriate tone and syntax, but also expediency and timeliness; in other words, do not wait to the last minute to responded to posts and responses.
  • Please have all online assignments completed by class time. This is important as some assignments specifically relate to the lecture and discussion.
  • All responses will be assessed and marked electronically.  See assessment criteria below. 

A digital copy of the Diary of Tasks must be submitted at the end of the semester, or you will receive half points for participation.

More information about Forum Posts: 

  • Additionally, avoid “stream-of-consciousness” writing.”  Also, despite being completed electronically, these assignments are not to be composed in a “chat room-like” formatting; maintain a professional tone throughout your responses.
  • Unless otherwise noted, you should rely upon your textbook and assigned articles to support your arguments and outcomes. Use first person (“I think,” “I feel,” “I believe,” etc.) carefully.  Credibility is often achieved through succinct, clear writing, with answers supported by authoritative sources.  For example, “I think grey is a depressing color” is a weaker statement than “Scientists argue that grey elicits a sad response from individuals because . . .”
  • Unless otherwise noted, all posts should be a maximum of 250 words.

Entry Descriptions and Due Dates

You will need to complete one entry by each of the following days:

Other Information

Citation: if you require citations, you should rely upon the Chicago Manual of Style. See Western Libraries for more information:

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