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 and theory. The program, which blends studio and academic work, explores the intersections between built forms and the natural landscape, as well as the interactions between architecture and the cultural landscape. Anthropology, computer science, environmental studies, history, psychology, and sociology all come into play, alongside art, math, and physics. There are awards, grants, and fellowship opportunities for students of Architecture and Art Studio.

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


This area of study is administered by the Department of Art and Art History:

Michael Davis, Professor of Art

Naomi Darling, Five College Assistant Professor of Sustainable Architecture

Thom Long, Five College Assistant Professor of Architectural Studies

Jean Jaminet, Five College Visiting Lecturer in Architectural Studies

Requirements for the Major

A minimum of 44 credits:

Foundation Concentration
One art studio course at the 100 level; for example:4
Drawing I: 'Visual Exploration'
One 100-level art history survey with significant architectural content:4
Image and 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 Architectural Design: 'Sculpting Space'
Intermediate Studies in Architecture: 'Principles of Environmental Design'
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:
The Visual World of Ancient Rome
Age of the Cathedrals: The Art of Gothic Europe, 1100-1500
Italian Renaissance Art
Renaissance and Baroque Architecture in Italy
Architecture 1890-1990: 'Building the Modern Environment'
Arts of China
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

Design studios are not substitutes for art studios


Drawing, multimedia, painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography; consult the studio art course offerings


 Where the specific topic of the ARTH-290 course is appropriate

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. The student's program plan must be outlined in writing and submitted for approval to the advisor during the semester in which the student declares her major in architectural studies. The program may, of course, be revised with the advisor’s approval.

Additional Specifications

  • Students are encouraged to fulfill the science and mathematics distribution requirement by taking courses in mathematics and physics.
  • 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 Environment 4
or ARTH-105 Arts of Asia
A minimum of one approved architectural design course at the 200 level4
One approved art studio course at the 200 level 14
Two approved electives in art history, art studio, or architectural design 28
Total Credits20

Students are reminded that a 100-level art studio course is the prerequisite for admission into the 200-level art studio courses


At least 16 credits must be above the 100 level to satisfy the requirements for the minor

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

  • 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-year and Sophomore students.

ARCH-205 Introduction to Architecture

ARCH-205AD Introduction to Architectural Design: 'Sculpting Space'

Fall. Credits: 4

This studio course will be a design investigation of a particular theme in or approach to architecture and the built environment. Students will develop and apply traditional and contemporary architectural skills (sketches, plans, elevations, models, computer diagramming, and various modes of digital representation) to 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 issues involving site, construction, inhabitation, function, form, and space. Our goal is to apply creative techniques in art and sculpture to the creation of meaningful space.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
T. Long
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-225DD Intermediate Studies in Architectural Design: 'Introduction to Digital Design'

Fall. Credits: 4

This course introduces students to contemporary digital design tools in order to better communicate fundamental architectural ideas. Students engage with CAD, 3D modeling, and 2D visualization techniques in Rhino 5 and Adobe CC, ultimately becoming an integral part of their creative design process. Students become proficient in digital drawing and modeling as they craft a short series of cumulative design exercises focusing on the tectonics and articulation of architectural surfaces. Skills are introduced and expanded, but more importantly, students learn to navigate the virtual environment that now more than ever influences a designer's disciplinary interests and creative processes.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
J. Jaminet
Advisory: One semester of Drawing I, design, or sculpture is recommended.

ARCH-225EC Intermediate Studies in Architectural Design: 'Principles of Ecological Design'

Spring. Credits: 4

This studio/lecture course explores the ecology of nature's architecture and human-built environments as we "study our living place", and let the ecology of place guide design. Students will closely observe and analyze individual and collective environments and landscapes, case-study examples, ecosystems, wildlife, habitats, and human spaces of form and function. Students will utilize whole-systems thinking, knowledge of environmental issues, Earth elements and the biosphere to better understand and creatively build resilient, environmentally responsible design plans. This interdisciplinary course will be active with literature, group discussions, individual and group work/presentations; and will include outdoor, creative and hands-on activities. Students will expand as ecological designers through weekly journals, visual exercises/sketching, mapping, palette and site-design challenges and projects.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
J. Bergeron
Advisory: One semester of design, or environmental studies, or drawing/art studio recommended but not required.
Notes: Students enrolled in this course will be responsible for materials cost and possible field trip transportation.

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

Not Scheduled for This Year. 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: 4 Credits in Architecture design studio.
Advisory: Knowledge of algebra and trigonometry.
Notes: Students enrolled in this course will be responsible for some of the cost of materials.

ARCH-280 Topics in Architectural Studies

ARCH-280WN Topics in Architectural Studies: 'From Weimar to Nazi Germany: Film and Society'

Spring. Credits: 4

Discussing both canonical and lesser-known films from the Weimar and Nazi period, we explore various artistic tendencies, movements and genres in order to define cinema's complex role in representing social and historical experience. We pay special attention to the modes of constructing cinematic spaces, and the social utopias and catastrophes which cinema came to represent.

Crosslisted as: GRMST-231WN, FLMST-270WN
Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
Other Attribute(s): Writing-Intensive
N. Gortcheva
Notes: This course includes a mandatory weekly film screening. Taught in English.

ARCH-295 Independent Study

Fall and Spring. Credits: 1 - 4

The department
Instructor permission required.

ARCH-305 Advanced Topics in Architecture

ARCH-305DT Advanced Topics in Architecture: 'Digital Design and Theory'

Fall. Credits: 4

This course investigates new methods of design intelligence specifically associated with digital design and fabrication technologies. The computer is used in its capacity as a design tool, encompassing both digital skills and design thinking. Skills with 3D modeling and 2D visualization softwares are developed through a series of cumulative design exercises. Prototypes are generated using plotters, laser cutters, and 3D printers to confront the reality of virtual constructions. Design discourse is introduced through complementary lectures, readings, and discussions. This course encourages students to seek insight into the conditions that now shape the contemporary design environment.

Applies to requirement(s): Humanities
J. Jaminet
Restrictions: This course is open to Juniors and Seniors.
Prereq: 8 credits in Architectural Studies, Art History, or Environmental Studies.

ARCH-391 Research Seminar in Art History and Architectural Studies

Not Scheduled for This Year. Credits: 4

This seminar explores practical issues in doing advanced research in art history and architectural studies. Depending on student projects, activities could include reading primary sources, critical assessment of texts and archival materials, use of library and digital resources, and visual analysis. Students have an opportunity to think about how to organize research into a thesis, or how to make sense of research and internship experience off-campus or during study abroad.

Crosslisted as: ARTH-391
Applies to requirement(s): Meets No Distribution Requirement
Other Attribute(s): Speaking-Intensive, Writing-Intensive
A. Lee
Restrictions: This course is open to Juniors and Seniors.
Prereq: Jr, Sr, 8 credits in Architectural Studies.

ARCH-395 Independent Study

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:

  • 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.