AAS 306
Building Power: Race and American Architecture Spring 2024
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Cross-listed AMST 306 / ARTH 306
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

This course explores the many ways race is constructed through American architecture. We will survey different methodologies for linking architecture and race, including uncovering the history of buildings in the nation’s capital, analyzing public housing and “domestic war,” and theorizing how racial difference and racialized power — including white supremacy — are implicated within modern architectural theory. Our readings will be drawn from Asian American, Latinx, and Black studies, as well as architectural history, art history, and urban studies. Together we will attempt to answer several questions about racialized architecture, such as why Asianness has often been associated with domestic interiors, how Blackness is coded in particular built forms, such as skyscrapers, and how architects and planners deploy the visual language of the Latinx barrio to mitigate anti-immigrant fear. We will also explore how BIPOC artists, architects, writers, and scholars engage architecture as a standpoint of critique, pushing back against the racialization of architecture and offer alternative or new ways of thinking about structures and space. While foregrounding race, the course will necessarily require intersectional thinking in relation (but not limited) to class, gender, citizenship, and ability.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 10-15
Class#: 3558
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on response papers, discussion questions, and a final research project on an architectural object, theory, or style.
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: First- and second-year students
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
AMST 306 Division II AAS 306 Division II ARTH 306 Division I
DPE Notes: The course examines how the production of racial categories and the maintenance of racial hierarchy and difference works through built forms, architectural style, and architectural theory. Students will see how buildings maintain social power, as well as how writers, architects, artists, and scholars use the architectural imagination to grapple with questions of racialized exclusion, dispossession, and crisis.
Attributes: AAS Non-Core Electives
AMST Arts in Context Electives
AMST Space and Place Electives

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