ARC 585

ARC 585– Questions of Sustainable Thinking

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Course Details

Course No.: 10327

Department: Architecture

Semester: 2017 Fall

Location: Hayes Hall – 402

Meeting Day(s): Tuesday

Meeting Time: 11:00AM - 1:40PM

Faculty: Bohm

The term “sustainable design” creates an immediate delineation between what is “just” design and that which earns the qualifier “sustainable”. This delineation suggests boundaries.  However, when examined closely, these are malleable at best and ill-defined at worst.  Sustainability definitions and frameworks are many, variously emphasizing ecology, economics, and equity.  Given the lexical ambiguity, a plurality of sustainability concepts permeates the architectural world, as well as the broader sociocultural context in which it is situated.


This course attempts to productively map the intellectual domain of sustainability through examination of canonical texts. It is intended that this examination complement directly the work in the other courses of the EP research group. We focus on the questions which the sustainability paradigm(s) pose, challenging our thinking as designers, citizens, consumers, and living creatures.  Through readings, critical writing, guest lectures and discussion, we will ask questions such as:  How are various notions of sustainability constructed, and how do they impact one another and the role of the designer?  Is it even possible to have truly sustainable architecture?  Does or should sustainability have an aesthetic? To what extent does sustainable design assume an ethic?  How does our cultural construction of nature presuppose a human relationship to it?  Is sustainable architecture anti-modern?  What are the political dimensions of sustainability?