Architectural Studies


Sandy Speicher, head of the Design for Learning domain at IDEO, a global design consultancy, extols design education because its principles are often at the nexus of so-called "21st-century skills."

"The process of design is inherently a process of learning," Speicher says. "It's well documented that the jobs of the future require the skills to collaborate, to learn quickly, to be adaptable, creative, [and have a] facility with technology. Learning through the design process is a way to teach all those skills and also how to lead, follow, how to interpret and synthesize."

Architectural Studies majors take an array of courses covering disciplines such as architecture history and theory, studio art, architecture design, environmental studies and sustainability, and urban and social sciences.

The Architectural Studies Department offers an interdisciplinary major, a B.A.; there is no minor in architectural studies.

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If you'd like to view a full listing of our course options in Architectural Studies or any other subject, please visit the Online Course Catalogue.

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Requirements for the Architectural Studies Major (B.A.)

interdisciplinary, 14 courses

One Introduction to Architectural Studies course, two studio art courses, three architecture history and theory courses, two architecture design studios, one environmental design and sustainability course, one history course, one urban and social science studies course, and three electives selected in consultation with an adviser in the program.

For more information, see the complete list of the major course requirements for Architectural Studies.

Architectural Studies Declaration Form

Sample Sketchbook by student enrolled in "Intro to Architectural
Studies" [ARCH 110] (click to view)


Our students choose from a variety of introductory and advanced courses in architectural studies, each designed to provide students with a foundation in visual culture as well as the creative means of discovery and self-expression.

Below, you'll find a sampling of some of our most popular classes, as well as suggestions for making Architectural Studies a part of your larger interdisciplinary experience at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

ARCS 303 Visual Notes and Analysis: The Designer's Sketchbook


Learning to see involves both abstraction and generalization; learning to record involves understanding a conventional drawing vocabulary; learning to analyze through drawing involves understanding design principles and paradigms. Work on location, recording your visual observations by only using the eye and your foot pace to measure and record spaces. No mechanical means (tape measure, ruler, camera) will be used. This course is regularly taught in Italy as part of the Rome abroad program. Click here to view 2012 Rome program photos.

ARCH 312 Theories of Modern Architecture and Urbanism


This course investigates the role that ideas can play in the making and interpretation of the built environment. Emphasis is placed on buildings and ideas that are crucial to the important theoretical debates of the 20th century. Enroll in HIST 215 American Urban History, and examine the urbanization of American society from the colonial period to the present, with emphasis on the development of the physical city.

ARCH 313 History of Modern Landscape Architecture


Analyze the landscape design of specific parks, gardens, roads, planned communities, and other sites of invention, and contextualize works of landscape design through consideration of the humanities, especially philosophy, literature, painting, and architecture. The relationship of individual landscape projects to their topographic and social contexts will emerge as a central theme of the course. Also learn to see, analyze, and appreciate works of landscape design, as well as the historical trends and cultural forces that have shaped them.


Architectural Studies Recommended Minimum Configuration:

  • MacBook (recommended) or PC laptop with a dual-core processor, at least 4 GM RAM, and a 500 GB hard drive
  • Suggested additional software: Adobe Suite (specifically Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign)

Software may be ordered through the Help Desk at an educational discount. Contact the Help Desk at or (315) 781-4357.


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