Architectural Studies

Michael T. Davis, program coordinator

Rose Ryan, Academic Department Coordinator

201 Art Building

Overview and Contact Information

The Architectural Studies Program at Mount Holyoke offers an interdisciplinary approach to issues of design, history, and theory. The program blends studio and academic work, as well as the interactions between architecture and culture throughout history.

Architectural Studies lays a foundation of creative practice, technical skill, problem-solving, and critical thinking that prepares students for graduate study and professions in a variety of fields including architectural, industrial, and landscape design, urban planning, construction, education, sustainability, and project management with international development organizations. Mount Holyoke College is also a member of the Five College Architectural Studies program which offers access to the collective courses, faculty, and resources of the Five Colleges

With interests ranging from architectural history to urban design, majors have enrolled in study abroad programs across the globe, including Copenhagen, Dublin, Florence, and Paris.


This area of study is administered by Architectural Studies faculty within the Department of Art and Art History:

Michael Davis, Professor of Art History

Ajay Sinha, Professor of Art History

Jessica Maier, Associate Professor of Art History

Naomi Darling, Five College Assistant Professor of Architecture Studies  

Five College Affiliated Faculty

Thom Long, Five College Associate Professor of Architecture and Design, Hampshire College

Gabriel Arboleda, Assistant Professor of Architectural Studies, Amherst College

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 44 credits:

Foundation Concentration
One art studio course at the 100 level; for example:4
Drawing I 1
Studio Art Foundations
One of the following art history survey courses with significant architectural content:4
Image and Environment
The Built Environment
Arts of Asia
Introduction to Architecture
Design Studio: 8 credits (taken at Mount Holyoke, Smith College, Hampshire College, or the University of Massachusetts, Amherst); for example: 18
Mount Holyoke:
Introduction to Architecture: 'Design'
Intermediate Studies in Architecture: 'Environmental Principles'
ARCH 216
Intermediate Architectural Design
Studio: Landscape and Narrative
Introduction to Architecture: Site and Space
Introduction to Architecture
Introduction to Architectural Design
Design Fundamentals I
Topics in Architecture
Design I
Design II
Intermediate Concentration: 20 credits at the 200 level20
At least one course must be a studio art course 2
At least one course must be an architectural history course or an art history course with significant architectural content. In the Department of Art and Art History, these courses include:
Age of the Cathedrals: Gothic Art in Europe, 1100-1500
Renaissance and Baroque Architecture in Italy
Architecture 1890-1990: 'Building the Modern Environment'
Arts of Japan
Arts of India
Arts of Islam: Book, Mosque, and Palace
Issues in Art History 3
Advanced Concentration: 8 credits at the 300 level (in area of concentration). Courses may be drawn from art history, studio art, architectural design, and related disciplines8
Total Credits44

Other Requirements

  • Program plan. Students who elect to major in architectural studies in the Department of Art and Art History should select an advisor who will assist them in mapping a program of study.

Additional Specifications

  • Students are encouraged to fulfill the Science and Mathematics distribution requirement by taking courses in mathematics and physics that are required for graduate study in architecture.
  • Students majoring in architectural studies are not eligible to minor in art history or art studio.

Requirements for the Minor

A minimum of 20 credits:

ARTH-100Image and Environment4
or ARTH-101 The Built Environment
or ARTH-105 Arts of Asia
or ARCH-201 Introduction to Architecture
One approved art studio course at the 100 level, for example: 14
Drawing I
Studio Art Foundations
A minimum of one approved architectural design course at the 200 level4
Two approved electives in art history, art studio, or architectural design at the 200 or 300 level8
Total Credits20

Other Requirements

  • Program plan. Those intending to minor must meet with a member of the architectural studies faculty to develop an approved program of study.

Additional Specifications

  • At least 16 credits must be above the 100 level to satisfy the requirements for the minor.
  • Students majoring in art history or studio art are not eligible to minor in architectural studies.

Course Offerings

ARCH-201 Introduction to Architecture

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This course introduces the many facets of architecture: history, theory, and design of buildings, landscapes, and cities. In addition to surveying architecture from the earliest forms of human habitation to contemporary residences, the course introduces basic analytical skills of architectural representation. Students will develop skills of speaking and writing about architecture, while also learning basic design tools: the sketch, map, plan, elevation, materials study, and landscape setting. Guest architects and theorists will introduce design topics and work with students preparing drawings and designs that are evaluated on effort and realization, not on proficiency.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
M. Davis
Restrictions: This course is limited to first-years and sophomores.

ARCH-205 Introduction to Architecture

ARCH-205AD Introduction to Architecture: 'Design'

Spring. Credits: 4

This studio course introduces a series of design investigations around particular themes and approaches to architecture and the built environment. Students will develop visual communication and architectural design skills (sketches, plans, elevations, sections, projected drawings and model making) to tackle interdisciplinary and socially pertinent design problems. Creative and indexical study and analysis will be used to generate and foster a broad range of concepts and language to solve architectural and design issues involving site, inhabitation, function, form, materiality, light and space. Our goal is to apply creative techniques in art and sculpture to the creation of meaningful space.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
N. Darling
Advisory: One semester of design or drawing is recommended
Notes: Students enrolled in this course will be responsible for some of the cost of materials.

ARCH-225 Intermediate Studies in Architectural Design

ARCH-225ED Intermediate Studies in Architecture: 'Environmental Principles'

Fall. Credits: 4

This hybrid studio addresses human comfort with lectures and problem work sessions integrated with design projects. We start with an in-depth study of the world's climate regions, the sun, and the earth's tilt and spin. Primary methods of heat transfer are investigated as students research two architectural solutions (vernacular and contemporary) within each climate. Using daylight, the sun's movement, and sun-path diagrams students will design, draw and build a functioning solar clock. Issues in day-lighting and thermal comfort will then drive an extended design problem. Students will be asked to solve numerical problems and present design solutions using both drawings and models.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
N. Darling
Prereq: ARCH-205.
Advisory: Knowledge of algebra and trigonometry. ARCH-216 at Amherst College is recommended.
Notes: Students enrolled in this course will be responsible for some of the cost of materials.

ARCH-280 Topics in Architectural Studies

ARCH-280MB Topics in Architectural Studies: 'Makerspace Design-Build Studio'

Spring. Credits: 4

The rise of digital fabrication processes has blurred the traditional division of labor enabling architects and designers not only to draw but to also fabricate projects, often using the very same programs. Following the rise in CAD/CAM has been a burgeoning Maker movement as more and more individuals have rediscovered the joys (and sometimes frustrations) of realizing projects within a collaborative environment. This class will introduce students to both traditional and digital making through a series of individual exercises that will culminate in a collaborative group project to make a reception desk for the new Makerspace in Prospect Hall.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
N. Darling
Prereq: Any architecture studio course or art studio course.

ARCH-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

ARCH-305 Advanced Topics in Architecture

ARCH-305CS Advanced Topics in Architecture: 'Capstone Studio'

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This studio provides a structured creative environment for students to explore and design in both an individual and collaborative setting. Students develop their own individual design projects, identifying their approach, then executing their creative acts throughout the semester. This course is highly interdisciplinary in nature, yet designed for students developing projects in various areas of architecture and design, environmental studies, and urban planning. Discussion and writing are integral to this studio. The semester culminates in a collective exhibition. Students must have an individual project in mind or in progress at the start of the term.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
N. Darling
Notes: A considerable amount of self-directed work outside of class hours is expected from students.

ARCH-305TC Advanced Topics in Architecture: 'Technologies of Architectural Design'

Fall. Credits: 4

This seminar investigates the role of technology in the design of buildings in the pre-modern world. We will perform the layout of a medieval church plan employing geometric procedures, follow the development of drawing in conception and construction, and consider structural innovation as a response to changing functional and imaginative demands. Using digital software and the facilities of the Makerspace, we will explore the possibilities technology offers for the analysis, reconstruction, and presentation of historical architecture.

Crosslisted as: ARTH-301TC
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
M. Davis
Restrictions: Course limited to sophomores, juniors and seniors
Prereq: A combination of 8 credits in art history, architectural studies, or art studio.
Advisory: Students with a computer science background encouraged to enroll.

ARCH-395 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.

ARCH-395P Independent Study with Practicum

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 8

The department
Instructor permission required.

Related Courses

Students who plan to enroll in courses outside of the Five Colleges, especially in courses to be taken at another institution or abroad, should first consult with their advisor and the program coordinator to determine if the courses meet the departmental criteria for the major.

Five College Course Offerings in Architectural Studies

Current courses in architectural studies are offered throughout the Five Colleges. Check listings in the Five College course schedule and

  • Amherst College: Department of Art and the History of Art
  • Hampshire College:  Humanities, Arts, and Cultural Studies (HACU), Lemelson Center (HCLC)
  • Smith College: Department of Art,  Landscape Studies Program
  • University of Massachusetts: Architecture and Design, Building Construction Technology, Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning.