Studying Architecture

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yeah viv talk nah
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Studying Architecture

Post by yeah viv talk nah » Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:53 pm

I'm trying to start studying architecture, which is one of the few parts of fine arts that actually interests me.

Does anyone have any study methods that are particularly effective for learning about architecture?

(I haven't found flashcards to be effective for me, so if possible, I'd like some methods other than that.)

Thanks for the help!

(BTW I wasn't sure where to post this, so feel free to move this if it's in the wrong place.)
Ani Perumalla
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Re: Studying Architecture

Post by Milhouse » Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:03 pm

Gardner's Art Through the Ages has a good deal of Architecture in it, I highly advise it as an starting place for any kind of visual art.
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Re: Studying Architecture

Post by vinteuil » Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:16 pm

Whitney Stoddard's book is great for medieval stuff. More generally, I think both Fletcher and Kostof are supposed to be good "overview histories." (But Aidan should really be the one posting in this thread.)
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Kouign Amann
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Re: Studying Architecture

Post by Kouign Amann » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:06 pm

vinteuil wrote:(But Aidan should really be the one posting in this thread.)
(Ask and ye shall receive, but I will say that the person we really need here is Evan—more times than I care to remember, he has reduced me to a sputtering mess of profanities by outbuzzing me on some architectural topic, which he can do because he has actually studied architecture for quizbowl. I mostly coast along on my coursework and personal interests, so I'm probably not the best person to give advice. I'd love for him to talk about how he's pursued this.)

To start with, Kostof's book is much more recent and therefore more interested in the cultural contexts around and ritual functions of the built environment. Like, there are a ton of buildings in there, obviously, but he's also more into the built environment as a whole, which includes but is not limited to monumental architecture. Fletcher is decidedly more old-fashioned, with a focus on comparative analysis of "styles." However, I'll admit that I can't speak to what the most recent editions are like. Fletcher is one of those survey books (like Gardner or Janson) that has been through so many revisions at the hands of so many people that whatever was Fletcherian about it may now be gone. Let me know. Really, either should be a fine introduction, though Kostof will better serve anyone more interested in how academics today look at things.

For more specific looks at shorter time periods, I recommend the Oxford History of Art series. All reasonably short, all reasonably priced, all reasonably well-illustrated. I personally have had good experiences with Bergdoll's "European Architecture 1750-1890", Stalley's "Early Medieval Architecture", and Upton's "Architecture in the United States."

For those interested in modern architecture in particular, I could never do enough to sing the praises of Ulrich Conrads's little book "Programs and Manifestoes on 20th-Century Architecture." It collects in one place tons and tons of architects' and groups' statements. In addition to being full of all sorts of the entertaining crazy shit that architects write, it's a great reference and resource, and it can help you get questions like that Futurism tossup from Nats this year.

There are also a number of excellent online resources. ArchDaily is a great architecture website that everyone should check out once in a while, and their weekly "AD Classics" blog offers numerous pictures and a history/legacy rundown for a huge variety of buildings from all over the world. Mostly 20th century stuff, but the most recent post is on Angkor Wat, so, y'know, there's some temporal diversity as well. WikiArquitectura's articles will typically be more extensive and better illustrated than their corresponding Wikipedia entries. Articles on tend not to include a lot of historical information but blow both Wikipedia and WikiArquitectura out of the water in terms of providing plans and sections, which are absolutely essential to figuring out what a building really looks like if you can’t visit it yourself. Articles on are frustratingly unillustrated, but the little biographical summaries there are, I think, the perfect length for quizbowl study. Just make sure to supplement with one of the other sites.

If anyone wants more elaboration or period-specific recommendations or anything else, just let me know and I will be more than happy to provide. Or like, if you just want to chat about architecture at the next tournament, let’s do that too.

Also, once you’ve used these resources to learn tons of cool stuff, please use it to write cool architecture questions! Maybe this post can help you with that! We need more interesting architecture writing.
Aidan Mehigan
St. Anselm's Abbey School '12
Columbia University '16 | University of Oxford '17 | UPenn GSE '19

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