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Architectural Building Systems

Architectural Building Systems involves the study of buildings as constructed of materials forged into components unified into assemblies organized into systems. We seek to understand how these component assemblies have evolved over time, what sorts of physical forces act on building elements at various scales, and how the materials and processes used in construction impact our ecosystem. Understanding methods of material extraction, industrial production, fabrication and construction enables us to make informed and intelligent design decisions for the sake of elegant, durable, and sustainable construction. We will sample the techniques and technologies of construction as we also seek to compare and measure the successes or failures of the efforts of our predecessors and contemporaries in the field of architecture. We will compare different methods for measuring the environmental impact of buildings and examine the various codes and certification standards that have been established.

The intent of Architectural Building Systems is to give students the tools to inform themselves about technical and scientific questions relating to buildings. Within the course of a semester we can only survey this vast topic. Through precedent studies in the classroom and tours of buildings, fabrication shops, and construction sites we will learn how to look at buildings with a technical eye. Study of existing precedents and methods is how architects learn to innovate. Through drawing, writing, research and discussion we will learn how to analyze and evaluate buildings according to technical criteria. Architectural ideas, either implicitly or explicitly, are expressed through technical propositions. Through focused design exercises we will learn how to apply technical knowledge to architectural ideas—most importantly, how to establish design criteria and performance goals and iterate possible solutions.