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Instructor Class Description

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Jeffrey K Ochsner
ARCH 556
Seattle Campus

The Arts & Crafts Movement and Its Legacies

Historical development of the arts and crafts movement focusing primarily on its influence on American architecture from 1870 to the present.

Class description

ARCH 556 is a Graduate Seminar that will explore aspects of the Arts & Crafts Movement in the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Arts & Crafts Movement developed in England and spread in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to northern Europe and the United States. While the movement was never held together by a single statement of goals or manifesto, members did share certain ideas: a critique of nineteenth century industrialization and opposition to overly ornate machine-made ornament in the decorative arts and architecture; a celebration of handicraft and unpretentious design; a belief in "hands-on" education; and a search for ways to bring together architects and the craft workers. The movement was broad, and perhaps not wholly coherent, and its shared ideals sometimes proved difficult to put into practice. Still, ideas and attitudes from the Arts & Crafts Movement (such as an appreciation of natural materials and well-crafted detail, regionalism in architecture, design-build, etc.) continue to shape design thinking today.

ARCH 556 will begin with the development of the Arts & Crafts Movement in England and Scotland and after three to four weeks will shift to the development in the United States. Although about half the classes will focus on architecture, the course will also address design reform, the decorative arts, landscape design and other aspects of the movement. Those whose influence will be considered include John Ruskin, William Morris, and Gustav Stickley. Some of the architects whose work will likely be addressed include B. Maybeck, J. Morgan, Greene & Greene, I. Gill, G. Maher, Purcell & Elmslie, F.L. Wright, R.A. Cram, C.R. Ashbee, C.F.A. Voysey, C.R. Mackintosh, W.R. Baillie Scott, P. Webb, etc.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

A primary objective of the ARCH 556 seminar is to encourage students to broaden their understanding of design and the relationships of design, craft and production relative to the architecture of the twentieth century and may raise questions about the relationship of design and making, the place of handicraft in industrial society, and relationship of the artisan to the architect.

ARCH 556 seeks to develop methods of critical inquiry through careful reading of primary source material, weekly written responses to the readings, in-class discussion, student-directed research, and faculty and student presentations. Class time is generally balanced between faculty and/or student presentations and discussion. Faculty presentations typically concentrate on broad trends, while student presentations concentrate on the work of individuals.

Because ARCH 556 is a graduate seminar, each participant will be expected to prepare brief papers on course readings, to participate in class discussions, to make an in-class presentation on an individual (architect or designer) associated with the movement, and to complete a term paper (on the same subject as the in-class presentation).

Recommended preparation

A good familiarity with the broad art and/or architectural history of the late 19th and the early to mid-20th centuries is an appropriate background for this class. ARCH 556 is a Graduate Seminar; students should have the ability to read discerningly and to write concise critical analyses.

Class assignments and grading

The readings for ARCH 556 are drawn from primary source material and/or from more recent scholarly publications. The initial emphasis is on primary source material; toward the end of the quarter the emphasis shifts more toward later scholarly evaluations. The use of primary material offers the opportunity to understand and analyze the thinking of major figures in the Arts & Crafts Movement. However, such essays often do not directly address the works these figures were actually producing, nor do they critically analyze, from the perspective of time, the legacies of the Arts & Crafts Movement. Thus, secondary sources are also important to gain an overview of the period. Additional reading from general sources (on reserve), or other relevant sources can serve to greatly enhance the material covered in the course.

Students enrolled in ARCH 556 will make in-class presentations, and prepare longer papers on the works of key figures in the Movement. Although most presentations and papers will likely address architects, students may select other craftspersons or artists as well. The instructor will provide a suggested list of likely subjects for analysis and presentation. There will be many other individuals who may be equally worthy of study as those listed; students are welcome to suggest alternatives.

Time limits the number of possible presentations to only two (or possibly three per class), so only 14-15 individuals may receive in-depth treatment in the course. (The number may be smaller if enrollment is lower.)

The presenter will distribute a short summary of the presentation and a bibliography to all of the participants in the class. A draft of the paper is due in the sixth week of the quarter. The final paper is due in the tenth week of the quarter.

Performance in ARCH 556 is graded on the university’s 4.0 scale and weighted according to the following formula: Weekly assignments (7): 35% Presentation: 10% Paper: 50% Overall contribution to the course: 5%


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Jeffrey K Ochsner
Date: 12/29/2004