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ARCH 21111 — Sophomore Design Studio

Project One: Architectural Analysis

As an architect begins a design problem, it is essential to develop a complete understanding of those precedents – historic/iconic, contextual, and programmatic – which might best inform his/her design process. Through the careful study of important buildings already designed, the architect learns the design principles which might, in turn, be applied to the resolution of new design challenges.

Before beginning the first design project of this course, our studio will start the semester with a project in building analysis. Each student will begin by selecting a series of historic buildings that illustrate the design principles presented in class. Then, he/she will use analytical diagrams as a means of studying those buildings and presenting the findings to his/her classmates. 

This project is foundational to the subsequent design projects this semester (a Tuscan pavilion, a Doric addition to a theater, an Iconic archive building) and introduces techniques and concepts that are used throughout one's entire career. As each design project begins, students will analyze the precedents they deem most relevant to their ideas and to the particular design problems the project poses. Each time, these analyses will be carried out by applying the same methodology and by employing many of the same diagram types as here, in Project 1. 


Through a guided research assignment and instruction in building analysis, students will be prepared for their first design project having address the following goals and skills.

  • Familiarity with library resources and methods of research
  • Selection and analysis of appropriate precedents
  • Representation of building analyses through diagramming

Architectural Analysis Building Worksheet

  1. Find two buildings to begin researching from the print resources provided on the tables in the library.
  2. Use Google, Wikipedia, or other online sources to fill out the building worksheet. 
  3. Begin diagramming prior to selecting all six of your buildings.  

Beginning Your Research

The Architecture Library houses valuable resources that will enhance your research and study of Architecture. Below is a quick guide to help you get started. 

How to Start

Explore your topic and develop a strategy for finding information. What are the most important aspects? These ideas becomes your 'keywords' for searching. For researching an architect, the architect's name is your keyword. For researching a style or movement, that name would be the keyword. It is important to start broadly and then narrow your search process. 

It is helpful to create a chart that describes all aspects of what you are looking for.

Example Searching for a specific building
Architect's Name Leon Battista Alberti
Building Name Malatesta Temple
Alternate Names Temio Malatestiano, Church of San Francesco at Rimini
Location Rimini, Italy
Associated Names Sigismondo Malatesta (patron), Pope Pius II, Isotta degli Atti
Associated Architects/Artists Matteo de'Pasti, Piero della Francesca, Agostino di Duccio
Other Keywords engaged columns, triumphal arch

Once you have your keywords follow these steps:

  1. Search the Notre Dame Library Catalog for books
  2. Look for articles on your topic
  3. Look for images
  4. Cite your sources