Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Urban Exercise

Every Spring semester, I teach a hands-on architectural history seminar on the buildings of Lancaster. During the last couple of yeas, the subject of my course has been Lancaster: The Architecture of Faith, focusing on over 100 historical churches and synagogs. The seminar explored issues of identity, class, and ethnicity in the dynamic urban landscape. Wishing to turn my students' attention to the physicality of buildings and the design process. I've changed my Lancaster seminar this semester. It focuses on the work of two major Lancaster architects, C. Emlen Urban and Henry Shaub. I'm calling the class Master Builders of Lancaster.

During our first seminar meeting, I threw my students in the realities of architectural documentation. Each student was assigned a bloc in the downtown and asked to create a quick record of the architectural record. They only had 20 minutes to their disposal. No cameras. The exercise was inspired by Kevin Lynch's mental maps. I attach a few examples of what the students did. Very few of the students have ever drawn anything before. Their first field assignment will serve as a foundation for our next discussion on the logic of drawings, following James O'Gorman's ABC of Architecture.

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Kostis Kourelis

Philadelphia, PA, United States