Departmental Office:
500 The Diana Center

Director of Undergraduate Studies:
Professor Karen Fairbanks
(212) 854-8431

Senior Department Assistant:
Rachel Garcia-Grossman
(212) 854-8430

The Department of Architecture


The Architecture major establishes an intellectual context for students to interpret the relation of form, space, program, materials and media to human life and thought. Through the Architecture curriculum, students participate in the ongoing shaping of knowledge about the built environment and learn to see architecture as one among many forms of cultural production. At the same time, the major stresses the necessity of learning disciplinary-specific tools, methods, terms and critiques. Thus, work in the studio, lecture or seminar asks that students treat architecture as a form of research and speculation which complement the liberal arts mission of expansive thinking.

Undergraduate Study in Architecture

Studying Architecture at Barnard College, Columbia College, and General Studies leads to a liberal arts degree – a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Architecture, and Barnard College is the administrative location for all undergraduate architecture studies at Columbia University and its partner institutions. A liberal arts education in architecture holds a unique position in academia and in relation to the discipline. If the goal of a professional education in architecture is to enable students to participate directly in the world as an architect – a liberal arts education asks that students consider the broader and myriad conditions in which architecture is conceived and practiced and, in turn, to understand how architecture inevitably alters those conditions. Students are asked to confront and interpret the complex social, cultural, political, and environmental processes that weave through architectural design and urbanism. The purpose of an undergraduate liberal arts degree in architecture is to educate students to think about the world through architecture.

The Architecture curriculum introduces design at a variety of scales, acknowledging that integrated design thinking is effective for problem solving at any scale and in any discipline. Students will experiment with full-scale installations and devices and make small-scale models of urban conditions from which they extract, interpret and invent new possibilities of inhabitation and use. The curriculum intentionally balances the traditions of handcrafted representation with evolving digital technologies of architectural design and communication.

The Architecture major complements, and makes great use of its University setting. With access to superb libraries, research centers, graduate programs, and abundant intellectual resources, our students have the opportunity to follow their creative instincts to great depth and breadth – and they do. The major depends on New York City as more than a convenient site for many design and research projects and frames the City as one of the key social and architectural, and thus didactic, markers of Modernity. Architecture students study with peers from countries around the world in one of the most diverse cities in the world. A large majority of the Architecture students expand their education by interning in Architecture or a related field during their undergraduate studies. Alumni of the Department are leaders in architecture and design fields around the world. The faculty teaching in the undergraduate program are dedicated teachers who are also at the forefront of practice and research and are similarly drawn to New York City as a nexus of global design thinking.

Students interested in obtaining a professional degree in Architecture continue on to graduate programs after their undergraduate degree, and students from the Barnard-Columbia program have enjoyed enormous success in their admissions to the most competitive graduate programs in the country. Students who study Architecture as undergraduates have also pursued graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines including Urban Planning, Law, and Media and Communications.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students in the Architecture Majors who fully engage with the curriculum should be able to complete the following outcomes:

  • Apply integrated design thinking to specific problems in and beyond the discipline;
  • Visually communicate architectural concepts and research using discipline-specific techniques in multiple media;
  • Verbally present independent, group or assigned research, in multiple media formats;
  • Organize and concisely write in a variety of formats including reports, case studies, synthetic overviews, etc.;
  • Understand and critically interpret major buildings and themes of Architectural history and theory;
  • Be intellectually prepared for graduate studies in architecture and related disciplines.

Departmental Honors

Senior requirements (a portfolio and research paper from a previous architecture course) are used to award departmental honors. Students must have a grade point average of at least 3.6 in classes for the major. Normally no more than 10% of the graduating majors in the department each year receive departmental honors.

Professors of Professional Practice:
Karen Fairbanks (Chair)
Kadambari Baxi

Assistant Professors:
Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi
Ralph Ghoche

Term Assistant Professor of Professional Practice:
Ignacio G. Galán

Adjunct Professors:
Joeb Moore
Madeline Schwartzman
Suzanne Stephens

Adjunct Assistant Professors:
Severino Alfonso Dunn
Ana Penalba
Todd Rouhe
Brad Samuels
Fred Tang
Irina Verona

Major in Architecture

The major in architecture requires a total of 14 courses, distributed as follows:

Studio Courses
Four studio courses, to be taken one per semester (studio courses have limited enrollment and priority is given to Architecture majors):
ARCH UN3101Architectural Representation: Abstraction
ARCH UN3103Architectural Representation: Perception
ARCH UN3201Architectural Design, I
ARCH UN3202Architectural Design, II
Required History/Theory Courses *
Five elective courses following the distribution requirement below:
ARCH UN3117Modern Architecture in the World
One course with a topic that is pre-1750
One course with a topic that is post-1750
Two electives (it is suggested that one of these be on a non-western topic)
Senior Courses *
ARCH UN3901Senior Seminar
Either a second Senior Seminar (from our program), a seminar from a related department (and related to student's disciplinary specialization/cluster), Architectural Design III, or Independent Research
Cluster of Related Courses
Three courses that relate to a single topic or theme that is relevant to architecture. Courses for the cluster may be taken in any department and may not overlap with any other courses for the major (e.g. history/theory courses or senior courses). All cluster courses should be selected in consultation with a major adviser.
Senior Requirements
Research Paper from Senior Seminar or Senior Course

Major in History and Theory of Architecture

The major in history and theory of architecture requires a total of 15 courses, including a senior thesis, distributed as follows:

Studio Courses
Two studio courses, to be taken one per semester:
ARCH UN3101Architectural Representation: Abstraction
ARCH UN3103Architectural Representation: Perception
Seven Lecture Courses
Three architecture lectures. One of these must be ARCH V3117.
Four art history lectures above and beyond the prior three. Two of these must be AHIS BC1001, AHIS BC1002
Three Seminars to be taken in the Junior or Senior Year
Two should be in Architecture (see Seminar List and NOte under Studio Major), one in Art History
Three Cluster Courses in an Area of Study Related to Architecture (See Description Under Studio Major)
The Architecture program is a liberal arts major, not a professional degree program. It does not qualify students for a license in Architecture

Minor in Architecture

The minor in architecture requires a total of five courses, distributed as follows:

Select one of the following:
ARCH UN1020Introduction To Architectural Design and Visual Culture
ARCH UN3101Architectural Representation: Abstraction
ARCH UN3103Architectural Representation: Perception
Three history/theory courses
A fifth course to be chosen in consultation with the adviser

ARCH UN1010 Design Futures: New York City. 3 points.

How does design operate in our lives? What is our design culture? In this course, we explore the many scales of design in contemporary culture -- from graphic design to architecture to urban design to global, interactive, and digital design. The format of this course moves between lectures, discussions, collaborative design work and field trips in order to engage in the topic through texts and experiences.

Fall 2019: ARCH UN1010
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ARCH 1010 001/06940 F 1:10pm - 4:25pm
504 Diana Center
Hua Tang 3 22/100
ARCH 1010 002/00161 F 1:10pm - 4:25pm
501 Diana Center
Virginia Black 3 21/100

ARCH UN1020 Introduction To Architectural Design and Visual Culture. 3 points.

Introductory design studio to introduce students to architectural design through readings and studio design projects. Intended to develop analytic skills to critique existing media and spaces. Process of analysis used as a generative tool for the students' own design work. Must apply for placement in course. Priority to upperclass students. Class capped at 16.

Fall 2019: ARCH UN1020
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ARCH 1020 001/06953 M W 1:10pm - 3:00pm
116b Lewisohn Hall
Richard Rouhe 3 15/100

ARCH UN2505 Architectural Histories of Colonialism and Humanitarianism. 3 points.

This course examines the connected histories of colonialism and humanitarianism through architecture. In doing so, it takes seriously the concerns and problematics of decolonizing the study of architectural history. The central premise of the course is to reverse the terms by which humanitarianism and colonialism are usually understood and to excavate new meanings of each through histories of architectures and constructed environments. We will attempt this by studying iconic forms: refugee camps and detainment centers, colonial expositions and museums, governmental headquarters and emergency field sites, and territories of consequence to colonial and national powers. Humanitarianism, an ideological manifestation of modernity and liberal thought, is governed by terms of urgency and rarely considered in a historical framing or seen as directly related to colonial structures. Meanwhile, colonialism is usually examined within particular places and narratives as a historical category, rather than a condition or process enacted by architectural forms, spaces, and practices. The paradoxes and problems of humanitarianism thus enable a rethinking of the extension of colonial practice into postcolonial environments, with architectures and their histories offering concrete iterations and theoretical models for understanding buried links between the two. This course has no prerequisites, and will introduce students to themes and cases (in Africa, Asia, and the Americas) through lectures, discussions of shared readings, and presentations of independent work by participants.

ARCH UN3101 Architectural Representation: Abstraction. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Enrollment limited to 16 students per section. Recommended for the sophomore year. Students work in a studio environment.

Introduction to design through analysis of abstract architectural space and form. Emphasis on the design process and principles of representations through architectural drawing and model making.

Fall 2019: ARCH UN3101
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ARCH 3101 001/06943 M W 9:00am - 11:50am
404 Diana Center
Diana Cristobal Olave 4 14/100
ARCH 3101 002/06944 M W 10:00am - 12:50pm
404 Diana Center
Madeline Schwartzman 4 10/100

ARCH UN3103 Architectural Representation: Perception. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Students work in a studio environment. Recommended for the sophomore year. Enrollment limited to 16 students per section.

Introduction to design through studies in the perception of architectural space and form. Emphasis on exploratory, inventive processes for the generation, development, and representation of ideas in a variety of media. Must apply for placement in course. Class capped at 16.

Fall 2019: ARCH UN3103
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ARCH 3103 001/06945 T Th 9:00am - 11:50am
404 Diana Center
Miku Dixit 4 15/100

ARCH UN3201 Architectural Design, I. 4 points.

Prerequisites: ARCH V3101 and ARCH V3103. Open to architecture majors or with permission of instructor.

Introduction to architectural design taught in a studio environment, through a series of design projects requiring drawings and models. Field trips, lectures, and discussions are organized in relation to studio exercises. Portfolio of design work from Architectural Representation: Abstraction and Perception will be reviewed the first week of classes.

Fall 2019: ARCH UN3201
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ARCH 3201 001/06952 M W 9:00am - 11:50am
116b Lewisohn Hall
Karen Fairbanks, Joeb Moore, Michael Schissel 4 24/40

ARCH UN3202 Architectural Design, II. 4 points.

Prerequisites: ARCH V3201. Open to architecture majors or with permission of instructor.

Studio workshop continuation of ARCH V3201. Emphasis on the manipulation of an architectural vocabulary in relationship to increasingly complex conceptual, social, and theoretical issues. Field trips, lectures, and discussions are organized in relation to studio exercises.

ARCH UN3211 Architectural Design, III. 5 points.

Prerequisites: A design portfolio and application is required for this course. The class list will be announced before classes start.

Further exploration of the design process through studio work. Programs of considerable functional, contextual, and conceptual complexity are undertaken. Portfolio required for review first day of fall semester or earlier, as requested by the department. Class list based on portfolio review will be formed by first class meeting.

Fall 2019: ARCH UN3211
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ARCH 3211 001/06941 M W 9:00am - 11:50am
404 Diana Center
Kadambari Baxi 5 10/30

ARCH UN3117 Modern Architecture in the World. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Designed for but not limited to sophomores; enrollment beyond 60 at the discretion of the instructor.

How has architecture been “modern”? This course will introduce students to things, practices, figures, and ideas behind this contentious and contradictory concept, emerging in multiple locations around the world. Students in this course will learn about architecture as it was practiced, taught, thought, and experienced across landscapes of social and cultural difference during the past two centuries. Learning about the past through historical consciousness around architecture and investigating the history of architecture as a discursive field are fundamental to liberal arts thinking generally, and important for students in architecture, the history and theory of architecture, art history, and urban studies.Students in this course will be introduced to:

Architecture as enmeshed with other forms of cultural production

Culturally-specific intellectual and public debates around the architectural and urban

Makers, thinkers, and organizers of the designed or built environment

Geographies, territories, and mobilities associated with architecture as an end or means for material extraction, refinement, trade, labor, and construction

Sites, institutions, media, events, and practices which have come to hold meaning 

Modernity, modernism, and modernization in relation to each other, as social, cultural, and technological drivers holding stakes for past events as well their histories.

In this course, we will ask questions about ideas and practices within disparate socially-and culturally-constructed worlds, and across other asymmetries. For example, can we draw a coherent historical thread through Lisbon in 1755, Bombay in 1854, Moscow in 1917, the moon in 1969, and al-Za’atari refugee camp in 2016? Are such narratives of coherence themselves the trace of the modernist impulse in architectural history? In this course, we will study modern architecture’s references to an art of building as well the metaphors it gives rise to. Embedded in this examination are social and cultural questions of who made and thought modern architecture, and aesthetic and historical questions around the figure of the architect.

ARCH UN3312 Special Topics In Architecture. 3 points.

Prerequisites: Prerequisite is the completion of one architecture studio or similar. Must apply for placement in course.

Topics vary yearly. Course may be repeated for credit.

Fall 2019: ARCH UN3312
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ARCH 3312 001/06957 M W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
113 Milstein Center
Irina Verona 3 6/100
ARCH 3312 002/06956 T Th 10:00am - 11:50am
Room TBA
Jason Kim 3 9/100

ARCH UN3901 Senior Seminar. 4 points.

Readings, individual class presentations, and written reports.

Fall 2019: ARCH UN3901
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ARCH 3901 001/06955 T 10:10am - 12:00pm
Room TBA
Anooradha Siddiqi 4 9/100

ARCH UN3997 Independent Study. 2-4 points.

Prerequisites: Permission of the program director in term prior to that of independent study. Independent study form available at departmental office.

Fall 2019: ARCH UN3997
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
ARCH 3997 001/06959  
Anooradha Siddiqi 2-4 2/10
ARCH 3997 002/06949  
Karen Fairbanks 2-4 2/10
ARCH 3997 003/06950  
Kadambari Baxi 2-4 1/10