Spanning three countries, ten weeks, over 100 site visits, and millennia of history, this program approaches the built environment in multiple ways. Students explore historical styles via lectures and readings, analyze primary sources and designs, visit sites with local experts, and scrutinize architectural forms via the contemplative practice of drawing. The program welcomes students from all disciplines without any prerequisites.
Message from Faculty Directors
Architectural Studies in Europe is rooted in firsthand interaction with architectural sites spread across Italy, Spain, and England. We begin with three weeks in Rome (where we enjoy sunshine and gelato) and end with three weeks in London (where we encounter rain and British cuisine). In between we make shorter stays in several cities in Spain, including Barcelona, Bilbao, Cordoba and Granada. The trip is filled with visits to all manner of architectural venues, from archaeological parks to contemporary museums.
The academic program features a survey of European architecture, spanning from prehistory to postmodernism, team-taught by the two program directors. The earlier half is taught by Baird (whose dissertation was on medieval revivalism), and the latter half is taught by Ross (whose dissertation was on radical post-war architecture). Each director also teaches a narrower five-week course pertaining to urban planning and community-based architecture. The program is rounded out with a beginning drawing course that requires students to analyze the visual form of built environments. Reflective practices are encouraged as students draw regularly in sketchbooks and write frequently in journals throughout the term.
There are no prerequisites aside from a positive attitude and genuine curiosity about European architecture and urbanism. We welcome your inquiries at any time.
- Studying cultural, technological, political and stylistic aspects of architectural history through firsthand encounters with both canonical and lesser-known buildings
- Exploring contemporary and historical examples of urban planning through local case studies
- Engaging with ethical, logistical, pedagogical, and financial challenges that confront professionals who oversee architectural sites open to the public
- Developing observational drawing skills through practice sketching buildings on location
- Gaining confidence and proficiency with international travel
Students must have sophomore, junior, or senior status in the 2023-24 academic year.
Courses of Study
ARTH 263: European Architectural History on Site: Prehistory to Postmodernism (6 credits, Art History, Literary/Artistic Analysis)
This course surveys the history of European architecture while emphasizing firsthand encounters with actual structures. Students visit outstanding examples of major transnational styles–including Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Moorish, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassical and Modernist buildings–along with regionally specific styles, such as Spanish Plateresque, English Tudor and Catalan Modernisme. Cultural and technological changes affecting architectural practices are emphasized along with architectural theory, ranging from Renaissance treatises to Modernist manifestoes. Students also visit buildings that resist easy classification and that raise topics such as spatial appropriation, stylistic hybridity, and political symbolism.
Instructors: Baird Jarman & Ross Elfline
ARTH 265: European Urban Planning (3 credits, Art History, Literary/Artistic Analysis)
This course uses metropolitan areas visited during the program as case studies in the history and contemporary practice of urban planning. Students will explore cities with the program director and with local architects, historians and planners—as well as in groups on their own. Specific topics include the use of major international events, such as Olympic Games and World’s Fairs, as large-scale planning opportunities, the development of social housing programs, adaptive reuse of former industrial neighborhoods, public-private collaborations, the creations of arts districts, mass transit initiatives, and others.
Instructors: Baird Jarman & Local Faculty
ARTH 262: Community-Engaged Design (3 credits, Literary/Artistic Analysis and European Studies, ACE Theoretical)
In recent years, architects and urban planners have increasingly moved away from the total-design methods that often typified the Modern Movement of architecture in which the master planner oversaw every aspect of design “from the teaspoon to the city.” In its place, many designers have engaged local resources and forms of knowledge rooted in communities as the basis for architecture and urban planning schemes. This course considers case studies in community-based design practices by looking at both the products of such labor as well as the distinct processes that empowered residents to refashion their own surroundings from the ground up.
Instructor: Ross Elfline & Local Faculty
ARTS 114: Introduction to Drawing Architecture (6 credits, Studio Art, mandatory S/CR/NC, Arts Practice)
Suitable for students of any skill level, this course teaches different drawing techniques both in a classroom setting and on location at various architectural sites. The course aims to hone observational and sketching skills and to develop greater awareness of formal characteristics in the built environment. Consideration of line, tone, shape, scale, surface, volume, and other foundational concepts and technical skills will be emphasized. Sketching assignments throughout the trip at different locations and types of structures will reinforce drawing practice.
Instructor: Dan Bruggeman & Local Faculty
Students will stay in apartments, hotels and hostels, depending on location and duration of stay.
The program will include frequent visits to buildings, historic districts, contemporary developments, archaeological parks, and other cultural heritage sites. Examples from previous include: the Alhambra, the Colosseum, the Duomo of Florence, the Great Mosque of Cordoba, Hampton Court Palace, the Pantheon, the Sagrada Família, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Tower of London, and over a dozen other UNESCO world heritage sites.