A Study of the Cultural Influences in the Frontier Lands of Texas

In a day where the architectural profession has become the purveyor of industry, we have become obsessed with one thing- the assembly of manufactured parts. In daily practice there is no mention of our earth, our cultures, our histories, our traditions, our landscapes, or even of our concepts of craft and beauty. Our relationship with technology drives us to the next-next thing, reflecting society’s insatiable thirst for consumerism, while building into the construction industry a planned obsolescence. There is no regard to local knowledge, traditions, or cultures, or an understanding of the cultural landscapes in which we build.

Since well before the Spanish Conquistadors roamed through Texas in the 1570s, Texas has been a vast frontier of both indigenous and mixed peoples from different cultures, beliefs, and traditions. Over the centuries, these people have both warred and collaborated in a land that has at times been claimed by six nations and at times none. Their histories, their mythologies, and their relationship with “tierra”- the soil, water, air, plants, animals, peoples and all that was of the landscape in which they lived, remains intertwined with our built environment today.

The course will study the anthropological influences on the architecture of Texas. Travel week will have us embark on a sojourn from El Paso, along the Rio Grande Valley and the U.S. Border with Mexico, to San Antonio and its surrounding areas.

The course will require a study in building tectonics and patterns of construction as they relate to different cultures, local resources, climactic conditions and building traditions. While traveling, we will include drawing as a mnemonic tool. Finally, the class will be asked to design the replacement for the Institute for Texan Cultures, currently in Downtown San Antonio’s Hemisfair Park.

During our week of travel we will study the following defining cultural influences: American Indian, Spanish, Mexican, German & German Freethinkers, English, French, Alsatian, Czech, Polish, Irish, Anglo American, Southern American and Black American, among others.

All Semesters

Spring 2021
Advanced Design Studio: Intersectional Theater
Sara Caples, Everardo Jefferson, George Knight
Spring 2020
Advanced Design Studio: A Center for Victims of Domestic Violence in New Haven
Turner Brooks, Jonathan Toews