Writing the City

a tall architectural spire made of seel girders and a concrete skyscraper in an urban landscape

The Eiffel Tower in Paris and Rockefeller Center in New York City.

  • Instructor: Cynthia Davidson
  • Time: M 10:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.
  • Location: AAP NYC
  • Credits: 3
  • Territory of Investigation: Architecture and Discourse

The discourse of architecture and cities is created and sustained by the writing of architects, critics, and historians. This seminar introduces students to the importance of writing in architecture and ranges from why one needs to write to how to write to what to write. Students will read important examples of writing in architecture by Le Corbusier, Rem Koolhaas, and Keller Easterling, and in cultural theory by Roland Barthes and Walter Benjamin, as well as read contemporary critics. Each reading illustrates different ways of perceiving and imagining architecture and the city that can only be conveyed through writing. Collectively, the writings serve both as a minor history of cities and as idea models for the students' own writing.

Lectures, readings, and class discussions will be enriched by short, in-class writing and/or editing and rewriting exercises that students will read aloud in class. In addition to weekly reading assignments, there will be weekly assignments to write 250-word observations on New York City, which will be seen as a living laboratory of ideas at many scales.

View a PDF of this class description.


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