Building Meaning : An Architecture Studio Primer on Design, Theory, and History book cover
1st Edition

Building Meaning
An Architecture Studio Primer on Design, Theory, and History

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after December 28, 2021
ISBN 9780367621575
December 28, 2021 Forthcoming by Routledge
312 Pages 270 Color Illustrations

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Book Description

Building Meaning: An Architecture Studio Primer on Design, Theory, and History is an essential introduction to the complex relationship between form making, historical analysis, and conceptual explorations. This book focuses on the relationship and interdependence between design, theory, and history for an innovative and holistic studio approach.

Rather than suggest a singular narrative, this book draws from a diverse range of thinkers and designers to highlight the many interpretations of key architectural concepts, and provides readers with the context essential for developing their own approaches to any design problem.

Building Meaning is organized to reflect the typical studio process, with stand-alone chapters that provide flexibility for use at any stage of design. The ideal book for beginning and intermediate architecture students, it gives specific methods to apply in the studio to make the most of the design process, as well as focused exercises to creatively explore each concept presented. Illustrated with over 200 color images, it enables readers to engage and understand critically the genesis of architectural ideas and their role in our social and cultural experience.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents



How to Use this Book

Chapter 1. Context

Architectural Precedents

Urban Fabric

Historical Interpretations

Context in Design

Context in Crisis

Suggested Exercises

Further Reading

Chapter 2. Inhabitation


User Groups


Perspective and Phenomenology

Time and Movement

Suggested Exercises

Further Reading

Chapter 3. Building Organization

Generative Diagramming

Objective Organization

Internal Organization

Subjective Organization

Conceptions of Space

Suggested Exercises

Further Reading

Chapter 4. Form

Understanding Form

Form as Ideal

Form and Culture

Form as Language

Parametric Architecture

Suggested Exercises

Further Reading

Chapter 5. Nature


Ground as Datum

Attitudes Toward Nature

The Vocabulary of Nature


Suggested Exercises

Further Reading

Chapter 6. Tectonics and Materiality

Basic Structural Principles

Structural Systems

Tectonic Expression



Suggested Exercises

Further Reading

Chapter 7. Representation

Basic Representational Tools

Historical Development

Drawings and their Role in Architecture

Visionary Architecture

Architecture in Other Media

Suggested Exercises

Further Reading

Chapter 8. Design Methodologies

The Design Concept

Trust the Diagram

Design Critically

Iterate and Translate

Embrace Uncertainty

Suggested Exercises

Further Reading


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Tamara Metz, adjunct professor in the Architectural Design department at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston, is an architectural educator with more than 20 years’ teaching experience. She previously taught at Suffolk University, Roger Williams University and the Boston Architectural Center. She studied architecture and philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, and went on to earn the Master in Architecture degree, with honors, at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Prior to shifting her focus to teaching and her solo architecture practice, she worked in top design offices, including (among others) those of Peter Rose + Partners and Brian Healy Architects.

Tamara has taught both undergraduate and graduate studio courses, as well as advanced drawing and research seminars. She has been invited as Guest Critic for studio courses at Northeastern University, Rhode Island School of Design, Roger Williams University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Boston Architectural Center. She brings her interest in design and philosophy to her teaching, with an emphasis on conceptual development and methodologies of representation. Her own research centers on design pedagogy and impacting underserved communities through design.