ARCH 1101 – Intro to Architecture

Course Description: The Introduction to Architecture provides a foundation for students entering the BArch / BTech program to develop a “visual literacy” of the built environment. Using New York City as a living laboratory, students explore concepts of design, composition, and construction in the context of the city through their direct experience of buildings. By practicing the basic skills of drafting, sketching, and reading about buildings, and with the opportunity to present their understandings to others through written assignments and verbal presentations, students will develop methods of representing and presenting architecture verbally and graphically.

Credits / Hours: 2 CREDITS (4 lab/studio hours)

Section Number: E460

Prerequisites: ARCH 1101 Introduction to Architecture

Course Goals & Objectives: 

  • Observe buildings in their totality and in detail and convey your observations in sketches. Learn to identify the various styles and tectonic elements within the built environment.
  • Translate on-site measurements of a building into scaled drawings that relate the plan, section, and elevation of a building following basic graphic standards.
  • Understand the basic concepts of composition such as scale, proportion, balance, and symmetry as experienced in the built environment, and be able to express them in drawing, speaking, and writing.
  • Read different formats of architectural writing and become familiar with the way architecture is discussed.
  • Develop a vocabulary specific to architecture and construction.
  • Research case studies of buildings and urban spaces.
  • Work together as a team, learning how to divide responsibilities and manage time.
  • Present your work to a jury as an individual and with a team.

It is assumed that students entering this class have no background in architecture and no experience in drawing. Drawing assignments will begin with simple exercises that become more complex as the semester progresses.  Students will be evaluated by their determination and improvement during the semester, and on their ability to grasp an understanding and ability to represent the built environment graphically, verbally, and in writing.

Class Meetings

In-Person Meetings:

  • Tuesdays 6:00pm – 9:20pm
  • Voorhees Room V-305

Faculty Information

Professor(s) Name:

  • Robert Christo

Online office hours & information:

  • TBD

In-person office hours & location:

  • N/A

Contact Information

Learning Outcomes

Since this is a first-semester introductory course, it does not meet any of the Student Performance Criteria required by NAAB.  Its goal, however, is to give students a broad exposure to architecture.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between plan, section, and elevation of a simple building.
  • Demonstrate the ability to produce a scaled hand-drafted drawings and models from a set of given dimensions.
  • Demonstrate the ability to understand a reading about architecture through writing and speaking.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of building proportion, rhythm, symmetry, hierarchy, etc. through sketching.
  • Demonstrate an ability to stand before a jury and articulate ideas through drawings, models, writing, and speaking
General Education Learning Outcomes / Assessment Methods
Learning OutcomesAssessment Methods
Upon successful completion of this course the student shall be able to:To evaluate the students’ achievement of the learning objectives, the professor will do the following:
Develop Knowledge from the range of architectural disciplinary perspectives presented in the course.Review student observations of site visits and lectures and assess written, graphic and oral reports.
Utilize Skills and demonstrate knowledge needed to facilitate communication and critical thinking.Assess student research and critical thinking abilities by monitoring weekly progress of lab work and readings.
Integrate knowledge and work productively to communicate ideas through oral, graphic and written media.Assess the students’ ability to integrate and communicate through peer and juried review of student presentations.
Course Intended Learning Outcomes / Assessment Methods
Learning OutcomesAssessment Methods
Upon successful completion of this course the student shall be able to:To evaluate the students’ achievement of the learning objectives, the professor will do the following:
Observe with a critical eye and engage in discussion on the subject of the course.Review student observationsand Assess the quality of critical thinking and contributions to discussions during oral and graphic presentations.
Research and investigate deeply into a given subject so as to contribute to the growth of knowledge.Assess student research abilities through written and graphic materials.
Synthesize and Apply what is learned to synthesize understanding and to complete assignments given in the class.Assess the students ability to synthesize apply what is learned from lab work and  through the grading of assignments.
Communicate effectively through presentations to the class using written oral and graphic media.Assess the students’ ability to effectively present and communicate what is learned on a given subject.
Communicate effectively using a vocabulary developed throughout the course.Assess the students’ use of professional vocabulary during quizzes, oral presentations and written assignments.

Course Requirements & Grading

  1. Students will be required to maintain a sketchbook into which they will enter their sketching assignments and record their observations.  Sketchbooks can be used for other courses such as Foundations I. Sketchbooks will be reviewed from time to time by the instructor for recommended improvement.
  2. Students will be required to write several essays in the course of the semester as homework assignments. Students will print out their papers and turn them in to the professor at the following class.
  3. Students will work on drawing projects during lab time. Since students have varying experience, they should be allowed to work at their own pace. There are no hard deadlines except at the midterm (everything from weeks 1 – 7) and the final (everything from weeks 9 – 15).  Students with experience will progress more quickly and can be given the next assignment ahead of schedule or be given an outside bonus assignment as the instructor wishes.  Slower students can work past the intended deadline. It is recommended that students keep up in order to avoid having to work on multiple assignments simultaneously.
  4. Students are required to participate during pinups and class discussions. While instructors recognize that some students are more comfortable speaking up, all students are encouraged to speak.  All students will make two presentations to juries (A team presentation and an individual presentation) where they stand before the jurors with their work pinned on the wall. 
  5. Below are the grading percentages. Please note these are close approximations; actual point values will appear on each individual assignment.

Project 1 – 15%

Midterm – 20%

Project 2 – 10%

Project 3 – 15%

Project 4 – 30%

Homework – 10%

NOTE TO STUDENTS: the only way students fail this course is by not doing their work.  When an assignment is not turned in it gets a zero.  If a student misses the midterm, they get a zero. If a student doesn’t show up for the final review, they get a zero. Zeros add up to zero, so please do your work.

Technology Requirements

  • Students need access to a device for video conference participation in the course meetings using Zoom.
  • Students should purchase a drawing work surface with parallel or set up a technical drawing desk surface approximately 24″x36″ with either a parallel rule (best option), t-square, or rolling ruler. These tools will be useful in Building Tech 1 as well.

Submission Formatting Requirement

Files:  All submissions must be in PDF format (not jpeg). All files (drawings, reading notes, sketch assignments) must be named as follows:

Student Lastname_Firstname_ARCH1101_2022_spring_Christo_assignment title_YYYYMMDD.pdf

Sample drawing assignment filename format:


Assignments MUST be submitted as a single PDF multi-page file.

Any submission not conforming to the above standards will NOT be accepted and must be resubmitted.


Topics will be covered in the order below unless otherwise noted during the semester. For more detailed information, refer to the Schedule page.

  • Weeks 1-3: Introduction to architectural concepts, terminology, & drawing techniques
  • Weeks 4-7: Project 1 – Measured drawings – Plans, sections, & elevations
  • Week 8: Midterm Exam
  • Weeks 9-10: Project 2 – Section through a multi-story building
  • Weeks 11-12: Project 3 – Urban design study
  • Weeks 13-15: Final Project – Personal space

Class Etiquette & Netiquette

All students are expected to attend all class sessions fully. It is preferred, but not required, for all students to have live video turned on during class time. All students are asked to manage their audio such that background noise does not distract from the class discussion or presentation.

Group presentations are a required aspect of this course. All students are expected to communicate fully with their group as required to prepare for all presentations. All students are expected to fully participate in the presentations.


No more than 2 absences are permitted during the semester. For the purposes of the record, two late arrivals are considered as one absence. Exceeding this limit will expose the student to failing at the discretion of the instructor. Besides providing formal instruction, this is a lab class and much of the work is done in class and overseen by the instructor.  Missing a class requires the student to make up the work in his/her own time and risk falling behind.

Academic Integrity Policy

Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting and citation of sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the college recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension and expulsion. More information about the College’s policy on Academic Integrity may be found in the College Catalog

Course Reading

  • Required text: Texts will be assigned during class.  As an Open Educational Resource (OER), readings are available online at no cost to the students.
  • Recommended texts: Francis Ching, Architecture: Form, Space, and Order. Wiley Publishing.  This is a good foundation text that students can also use in their design courses.
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