Recovery of a terra cotta victory figure from the Title Guaranty Building in St. Louis, 1984. Source: National Building Arts Center.

In this course, students will learn about the potential of making meaning from urban architectural artifacts – remnants of buildings still standing, artifacts recovered from demolition and archival sources that invoke lost designs. “Urban archaeology” can redirect destruction and loss of the built environment into meaningful knowledge. What can fragments and traces teach us about the material culture, politics and ideas of architecture? The main focus will be the collection of the National Building Arts Center, the nation’s largest repository of architectural artifacts that is located in St. Louis. These artifacts – parts of demolished or extant buildings, drawings, catalogs and photographs — come from St. Louis, Chicago, New York City and other places around the world. The course will provide an overview of architectural salvage, historic preservation and archive-making as architectural practices that are capable of producing meaning around loss and ruin. Students will work with artifacts through research, 3-D scanning, photographic documentation, drawing and interpretation. This course will help develop an exhibition of architectural artifacts at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation in Fall 2023. [ARCH 428]

Spring 2023 Syllabus