The History of Architectural Theory


Fall 2012

Mark Wigley, instructor

Architecture emerges out of passionate and unending debate. Every design involves theory. Indeed, architects talk as much as they draw. This class explored the way that theory is produced and deployed at every level of architectural discourse from formal written arguments to the seemingly casual discussions in the design studio. A series of case studies, from Vitruvius to Cyber-Chat, from ancient treatises on parchment to flickering web pages, were used to show how the debate continues to adapt itself to new conditions while preserving some relentless obsessions. Architectural discourse is understood as a wide array of interlocking institutions, each of which has its own multiple histories and unique effects. Students in this course explored “how” and “why” these various institutions were put into place, tracing their historical transformations up until the present to see which claims about architecture have been preserved and which have changed.