This course examines the role of material and procedure in the formation of architecture and the physical, logistical, and environmental constraints and demands that shape the processes of construction. In the first half of the term, a sequence of lectures surveys the conceptual concerns and technological factors of building: the origin and processing of the major classes of building materials; their physical properties, capacities, and vulnerabilities to physical and environmental stressors; the techniques used to work those materials; and the principles, procedures, and details of building assembly.
Corresponding construction examples and case studies of mid-scale public buildings introduce students to the exigencies that so often influence decision making in the technical process and inflect (and potentially enrich) design intention—regulatory requirement, physical and environmental stress and constraint, procedural complication, labor and material availability and quality, energy consumption, and ecological impact. After spring recess and in coordination with the studio design phase of the Building Project, the course turns to the detailed study of light wood-frame construction. Five lectures with practical exercises track the stages of construction of the single-family house and supplement ongoing design development of the Building Project house. In both its direct technical application to the work in the studio and its exploration of more general themes in current construction practice, the course seeks to illuminate the ecological considerations as well as the materials, means, and methods that are fundamental to the conception and execution of contemporary building.