Introduction to Architectural Design and Theory

Open to students entering grades 11 or 12 or freshman year of college in the fall
I - June 24–July 12, 2019
II - July 16–August 2, 2019
Days & Time:
Monday–Friday, 9:10 –11:00 a.m. and 1:10–4:00 p.m.
Virginia Black, Claudia Hernandez-Feiks, Brendan Moran, Gabrielle Printz

Some experience in drawing and photography is recommended.

 “[I gained] so much knowledge about architecture and how it ties into many other subjects as well.” – Grace C. | Lawrence, New York

 “The projects definitely surprised me about this course. Our creativity really showed and the projects were so unique.” – Leslie M. | Brooklyn, New York

Course Description

This intensive introduction to the key concepts underlying the analysis and creation of architecture consists of a morning seminar combined with an afternoon studio.

In the seminar, students are familiarized with central architectural themes through case studies of both recent and historical designs. Through discussions of readings that encompass the political, social, technological, and economic aspects of these designs, they gain an understanding of how built environments are produced. They also learn how to analyze a building visually and formally. Class discussions are supplemented with an architectural tour of the Columbia University campus and visits to prominent works of modern architecture in New York City such as the new Whitney Museum, the High Line Park, Grand Central Station, and the Seagram Building.

In the afternoon studio class, which is conducted as a creative workshop, students are introduced to the conceptual skills employed by architectural designers. Instructors provide hands-on rudimentary training in technical drawing and familiarize students with how to analyze and conceptualize architectural ideas. A short project is undertaken in the final week, in which students develop their own designs for an intervention on one of the New York City sites that has been visited earlier in the session.

Course participants should budget approximately $200 for the cost of studio supplies. The 2018 supply list can be found by clicking here. The 2019 supply list will be available in the Spring. Also please note that assignments for the studio portion of the course will require some in-studio work outside of normal class meeting times.


Virginia Black

Virginia Black is an architect, indigenous rights advocate, and visual ethnographer whose research is sited at the intersection of bodies, the environment, and memory. Her current work is situated between New York and Ecuador, where she collaborates with AMUPAKIN, an indigenous women's midwifery. She is a founding principal of feminist architecture collaborative and teaches at Interior Design at Pratt Institute and in the Department of Architecture and Technology at NYCCT. Virginia has worked for Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery and for a number of architecture design firms, including Maison Édouard François (Paris) and VolumeOne and AKOAKI (Detroit). Her work and writing has been published by Ed, FLACSO, and Harvard Design Magazine. She holds an M.S. in Critical, Curatorial and Conceptual Practices in Architecture from Columbia University, an M.Arch from the University of Michigan, and a B.Arts in architecture and modern languages from Clemson University.

Claudia Hernandez-Feiks

Claudia Hernandez-Feiks is a registered architect in the state of New York. She currently teaches in both the Department of Architectural Technology at NYCCT and in the Department of Interior Design at Pratt Institute. She holds a Master of Science degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Architecture from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. For the past ten years Claudia has worked in several design-oriented architecture firms in San Francisco and New York. Her work has focused on residential, institutional, and commercial project types. In independent practice, she is presently collaborating with a AH Design, a California-based automotive research, development, and design firm. Their research focuses on the use and adaptation of automotive fabrication technology and materials for architectural and interior design applications.

Brendan Moran

Brendan Moran holds a Ph.D. in architecture history and theory from Harvard University and a Masters of Environmental Design from Yale University. He has taught courses in design and architectural history/theory at Yale University, Columbia University, NJIT, and Syracuse University. Brendan is co-founder of AD-Hoc, a design think tank. He has worked for various architecture firms in New York City and elsewhere, including Leeser Architecture, Spivak Architects, The Rockwell Group, Bone/Levine Architects, and Peter L. Gluck and Partners.

Gabrielle Printz

Gabrielle Printz is a researcher, writer, and designer whose work hovers loosely around the bodied subject and negotiates the designed interfaces between people and power. Having plotted a path from political science and art history to architecture and its outer reaches, she approaches critical spatial practice through multiple disciplinary registers. She is a founding principal of a feminist architecture collaborative, a spatial research enterprise previously in residence at the GSAPP Incubator at NEW INC. Working both in and out of architecture, she has edited texts and designed installations for Columbia Books on architecture and the city, including for the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. She is a co-editor of Beyond Patronage: Reconsidering Models of Practice (Actar, 2015). Her writing and work have appeared in Harvard Design Magazine, Real Review, ED, at the Yale Center for British Art, the Morgan Library and Museum, VI PER Gallery, and Nottingham Contemporary. Gabrielle is a graduate of Columbia University’s Master of Science in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture program, and holds a Master of Architecture with a focus on situated technologies from the Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning.

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Specific course detail such as hours and instructors are subject to change at the discretion of the University. Not all instructors listed for a course teach all sections of that course.