Architectural Studies

Michael T. Davis, program coordinator

Melissa Burke, 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, Teaching Fall Only

Ajay Sinha, Professor of Art History

Jessica Maier, Associate Professor of Art History, Teaching Spring Only

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
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'
Introduction to Architectural Design: Analog
Introduction to Architectural Design Studio
Digital Architecture Studio
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 India
Arts of Islam: Book, Mosque, and Palace
Issues in Art History 3
If concentrating in architectural design:
Intermediate Studies in Architecture: 'Environmental Principles'
Advanced Concentration: 8 credits at the 300 level (in area of concentration). Students may elect to fulfill 300-level requirements with coursework in architectural design or the history and/or theory of art or architecture8
Advanced level architectural design courses include:
Makerspace Design-Build Studio
ARCH-403 Design V Studio taught at UMass in the fall semester
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 may wish to pursue an independent research or design project. Working closely with a faculty advisor, they submit a project proposal at the beginning of fall semester and enroll in ARCH-395 Independent Study. With approval from their advising committee, students continue the project through the spring semester by enrolling in a second ARCH-395 or the Capstone Design studio (ARCH-305 or its Five College equivalent).
  • 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
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-203 Scene Design

Fall. Credits: 4

An introduction to the art and work of the set designer in the performing arts. Students will learn how a designer approaches a script, how this work impacts a production, and what means are used in the execution of the process. They will learn how to develop their own visual imaginations and how to create visual concepts through discussion, renderings, models, and some hand drafting.

Crosslisted as: THEAT-222
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
V. James
Notes: lab; $50 materials fee. Any additional design supplies and materials are the responsibility of the student.

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. A digital design studio 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-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-311 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 exercises that will enable students to realize projects using the facilities of the Fimbel Lab.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
N. Darling
Instructor permission required.
Prereq: ARCH-205, and Digital Design Studio at Hampshire College or Smith College.
Notes: Interested students must fill out the form found on this page: -311 . Email the completed form to Naomi Darling at with the subject line: ARCH-311 Application. Non-architectural studies majors can take this course at the 200 level without the background in architectural representation with instructor permission.

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.