History and Theory, II

University of Pennsylvania Spring 2004
School of Design
Department of Architecture
Kazys Varnelis, Ph.D.

Architecture 512: History and Theory, II


This course traces the emergence of contemporary issues in the field by exploring architecture since the start of the twentieth century. Although it proceeds roughly in chronological order, it is not a survey. Incoming students should already have a familiarity with the major monuments, figures, and movements of the time. Rather, this course constitutes an advanced theoretical introduction to the key ideas that shape architectural thinking today, introducing topics as overlaying strata, with each new issue adding greater complexity even as previous layers continue to influence the present. Every class addresses specific themes through close readings of pertinent projects within the historical constellation of ideas, values, and technologies that inform them.

Of particular focus for the course is the relationship between architecture and modernity. Modernity is a new form of life, in which Karl Marx aptly wrote, “All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his, real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.” If the nineteenth century marks the emergence of a modern civilization, judged by many to be bereft of purpose apart from profit and loss and unceasing growth and change, the twentieth century is defined by attempts to resist that modernity, organize it, and turn it to the advantage of mankind. To this end, this course will trace architecture’s relationship to organizational regimes of modernity such as Fordism, Taylorism, and Post-Fordism, the rise and fall of the machine as an object not to represent but rather to emulate, and the increasing focus on architecture as a matter of process, not product. Throughout, the course will highlight the tension between a drive towards rationalization and an urge to form.

The course has two components: a lecture surveying critical issues through close readings of buildings and a seminar component, led by the teaching assistants, reviewing the week’s lecture and reading while focusing on close readings undertaken by students. Readings will focus on writings by architects while critical texts from both architecture history and outside the discipline establish a context.


  • Students will be evaluated on the basis of their seminar presentation and participation (30%) and on a term paper (70%).
  • A course reader will be available. Students are also asked to purchase two key texts that should be part of any architect’s library if they do not own them already.
  • Ulrich Conrads, ed. Programs and Manifestoes on 20th Century Architecture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1970).
  • Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture, trans. Frederick Etchells, (New York: Dover, 1985).

1 Introduction: Toward Modernity [Wagner and Taylor]

  • Georg Simmel, “The Metropolis and Mental Life” in Gary Bridge and Sophie Watson, The Blackwell City Reader, (New York: Blackwell, 2002), 11-19.
  • Marshall Berman, “Introduction. Modernity ”“ Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow,” All That is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982), 15-36.
  • Otto Wagner, “Style,” “Construction,” and “Concluding Remark,” Modern Architecture, trans. Harry F. Mallgrave (Santa Monica: Getty Center Publications, 1988), 73-80, 91-99, 124-125.
  • Frederick Winslow Taylor, The Principles of Scientific Management, (New York: Norton, 1967), 5-29.

2 Norm and Form, Culture and Civilization [Loos, Muthesius, Behrens, Van de Velde]

  • Adolf Loos, “Ornament and Crime,” 19-24; Hermann Muthesius, “Aims of the Werkbund,” 26-27; Hermann Muthesius and Henry Van de Velde, “Werkbund Theses and Antitheses,” 26-31; Paul Scheerbart, “Glass Architecture,” 32-33 in Ulrich Conrads, ed. Programs and Manifestoes on 20th Century Architecture (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1970).
  • Adolf Loos, “Architecture,” Adolf and Daniel Opel, eds., On Architecture / Adolf Loos (Riverside, CA: Ariadne Press, 2002), 73-85.
  • Stanford Anderson, “5 Modern Architecture and Industry, A Cultural Policy of Historical Determinism: Berlin I,” “6 Industrial Design, a Strategy for Unity Technology and Art: Berlin II,” and “7 Architecture for Industry, the AEG Factories: Berlin III,” Peter Behrens and a New Architecture for the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2000), 95-164.

3 Systems, Systematic and Anti-Systematic Thought [de Stijl, Bauhaus, Suprematism and Productivism]

  • De Stijl, “Manifesto I,” 39-40; ‘Work Council for Art’ [Arbeitsrat f?ɬºr Kunst], “Under the Wing of A Great Architecture,” 44-45; De Stijl, “Manifesto V: -?جø¬?+=R4”, 65-66; Theo van Doesburg, “Towards a Plastic Architecture,” 78-80. Walter Gropius, “Principles of Bauhaus Production [Dessau],” 95-97 in Conrads.
  • Thomas Parke Hughes, “The System Must be First,” American Genesis: A Century of Invention and Technological Enthusiasm, 1870-1970, (New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Viking, 1989), 184-248.
  • Peter Galison, “Aufbau/Bauhaus: Logical Positivism and Architectural Modernism,” Critical Inquiry Summer 1990: 709-752.

4 Objet Type, Object Primitives, Complex Forms [Le Corbusier]

  • Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture, trans. Frederick Etchells, (New York: Dover, 1985).

5 Form Against Function [Meyer, Taut, Mies, Corbusier, Hitchcock and Johnson]

  • Hannes Meyer, “Building,” Conrads, 117-120.
  • Karel Teige, “Foreword” and “Introductory Remarks: Toward a Dialectic of Architecture and a Sociology of Dwelling,” The Minimum Dwelling (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2002), 1-8 and 9-31.
  • Le Corbusier, “In Defense of Architecture,” The Oppositions Reader (Princeton: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998), 598-614.
  • Bruno Taut, “The New Dwelling: Woman as Creator,” and Grete Shutte Lihotzky, Rationalization in the Household,” in Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg, eds. The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, (University of California, 1994), 461-465.
  • Alfred H. Barr, jr. “Preface” in Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, The International Style (New York: Norton, 1995), 27-32.

6 Grounding the Building [Asplund, Aalto]

  • Val K. Warke, “Asplund’s Villa Snellman: An Appreciation,” Cornell Journal of Architecture 3, (Fall 1987), 88-94.
  • Stanford Anderson, “Aalto and ‘Methodical Accommodation to Circumstance,” in Timo Tuomi, ed. Alvar Aalto in Seven Buildings: Interpretations of an Architect’s Work (Helsinki: Museum of Finnish Architecture, 1998), 143-149.

7 The Plan and the Monument [Gropius, Kahn, Mies]

  • David Harvey, “Fordism” in The Condition of Postmodernity (Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 1989), 125-140.
  • Walter Gropius, “Is There a Science of Design?” Scope of Total Architecture (New York: Collier, 1962), 30-43.
  • Sigfried Giedion, Space, Time, and Architecture. The Growth of A New Tradition, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1982), 2-28.
  • K. Michael Hays, “Abstraction’s Appearance (Seagram Building),” in Robert Somol, ed. Autonomy and Ideology: Positioning an Avant-Garde in America, (New York: Monacelli Press, 1997) , 276-291.

8 The World as Found [Team X, late Corbusier, Stirling]

  • Nadir Lahiji, “The Gift of the Open Hand: Le Corbusier Reading Georges Bataille’s La Part Maudite.” Journal of Architectural Education (September 1996), 50-67.
  • I. de Wolfe [Hugh de Cronin Hastings], “Townscape: A Plea for an English Visual Philosophy,” in Joan Ockman, ed., Architecture Culture 1943-1968. A Documentary Anthology (New York: Columbia Books on Architecture/Rizzoli, 1993), 114-119.
  • Alison and Peter Smithson, “The New Brutalism,” in Ockman, 240.; various, “Grouping of Dwellings,” in Alison Smithson, ed. Team 10 Primer, (The MIT Press: Cambridge: 1968), 74-95.

9 [Spring Break]

10 Complexity and its Virtues [Venturi, Archigram, Superstudio, Archizoom]

  • Clement Greenberg, “Modernist Painting,” Harrison and Wood, 754-760.
  • Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1977 second edition; first published 1966), 13-33.
  • Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, “Ugly and Ordinary Architecture or the Decorated Shed,” Architectural Forum, November 1971, 64-67 and December 1971, 48-53.
  • David Harvey, “From Fordism to Flexible Accumulation,” The Condition of Postmodernity, 141-172.
  • Archizoom Associates, “No-Stop City. Residential Parkings. Climatic Universal Sistem” [sic] Domus 496, March 1971, 49-55.

11 The Recovery of Form, the Object and its Autonomy [Eisenman, Graves, Rossi, Hejduk]

  • Colin Rowe, “Transparency: Literal and Phenomenal,” in The Mathematics of the Ideal Villa and Other Essays, 159-183.
  • Alan Colquhoun, “Typology and Design Method,” in Essays in Architectural Criticism, (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1981), 43-50.
  • John Hejduk, “Introduction to the Diamond Catalog,” “Diamond House A,” Mask of Medusa. Works 1947-1983, (New York: Rizzoli, 1985), 48-49, 50-51, 242-245.
  • Peter Eisenman, “House I,” Five Architects (New York: Oxford University Press, 1975), 15-23.
  • Kazys Varnelis, “The Education of the Innocent Eye,” Journal of Architectural Education, vol. 51. No. 4 (May 1998), 212-223.
  • Manfredo Tafuri, “Toward a Critique of Architectural Ideology,” Contropiano 1 (January-April 1969), reprinted in Hays, ed., Architecture Theory Since 1968, (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1997), 2-35.

12 The Radicality of Experience, the Right to the City [Situationists, Rossi, Rowe, Tschumi]

  • Ivan Chtcheglov, “Formulary for a New Urbanism,” Guy Debord, “Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography,” 5-8 and Guy Debord, Gil J. Wolman, “Methods of Détournement,” 8-14 in Ken Knabb, ed., Situationist International Anthology (Berkeley: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981).
  • Aldo Rossi, “The Urban Artifact as a Work of Art,” from Architecture of the City (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1982), 32-41.
  • Rafael Moneo, “Aldo Rossi: The Idea of Architecture and the Modena Cemetery,” Oppositions 5, reprinted in ed., Oppositions Reader, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998), 105-135.
  • Colin Rowe, “Collage City,” Architectural Review 158, no 942 (August 1975) reprinted in Kate Nesbitt, Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: an Anthology of Architectural Theory, 1965-1995, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1996), 266-293.
  • Bernard Tschumi, “Spaces and Events,” Architecture and Disjunction (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1996), 141-150.

13 From the Critique of Architecture to An Architecture of Criticism [Silvetti, Graves, Eisenman, Libeskind]

  • Jorge Silvetti, “The Beauty of Shadows,” Oppositions 9, reprinted in Hays, ed., Oppositions Reader, (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1998), 365-389.
  • Robin Evans, “In Front of Lines That Leave Nothing Behind,” AA Files no. 6 (May 1984), pp. 89-96.
  • Bernard Tschumi, “Madness and the Combinative” and “Abstract Mediation and Strategy,” Architecture and Disjunction (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1996), 173-205.
  • Peter Eisenman. “The End of the Classical: The End of the Beginning, The End of the End,” Perspecta 21 (1984) in K. Michael Hays, Architecture Theory Since 1968 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1998): 524-538.

15 New Realism and the Diagram [Ito, FOA, Koolhaas]

  • Fredric Jameson, “Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism,” New Left Review 146 (July/August 1984): 53-92.
  • Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, “Capitalist Sovereignty, Or Administering the Global Society of Control,” Empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000), 325-350.
  • R. E. Somol “Dummy Text, or the Diagrammatic Basis of Contemporary Architecture,” in Peter Eisenman, Diagram Diaries (New York: Universe Publishing, 1999), 6-25.
  • Jeffrey Kipnis, “The Cunning of Cosmetics,” El Croquis 60 + 84, Herzog and De Meuron 1981-2000: Between the Face and the Landscape and the Cunning of Cosmetics, (Madrid: El Croquis, 2000), 404-411.
  • Rem Koolhaas, “Junkspace,” A+U Special Issue: OMA @ Work (May 2000), 16-24.

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