is the difference between an architect and an engineer?
How is an
architect part engineer?
part social worker?
In you opinion
which aspect of architecturestructure, function, appearanceis most important? Why?
to describe the three main structural forces or stresses: compression, tension, and bending.
you experienced each of these forcesÐin gym class for example? [compression
while lifting weights, tension while stretching or hanging from parallel
bars, bending when doing leg raises or back hyperextensions]
or metaphors or similes can you think of to describe how you felt under
those stresses? [like I was going to break in two, like a rubber band
ready to snap, stretched, strained, squashed, pressed, pounded, crushed,
each of the main structural elements that use and control these forces
in a building: column, post and lintel, beam, arch, dome, frame, truss, cantilever, catenary.
Diagram them on the chalkboard.
work not by fighting but working with and controlling stress. Which
forces do each of these structural elements control? What building materials
are suited to each structure?
them to describe, or , better yet, demonstrate how each of the structures
works using paper, cardboard or other easy to find materials. They can
even use their bodies for some! (See the "Body
to find an example of each in the architecture of their school or immediate
neighborhood. Alternative: Assign a homework project to bring back sketches
of each structural element they find.
With the sound
turned down, pause the Flying Off
the Bridge to Nowhere tape at the various bridges and ask students
to identify what type of bridge is being shown and tell how it works.
Verify with the web site "Bridges
& Tunnels of Allegheny County." Follow up with a "Bridge
buildings in the videos as examples, discuss how different building
typesÐhouses, schools, churches, offices, factories, stores, etc.--have
been adapted to server their purposes. Use the pause button to stop
the video at appropriate times to discuss a building in some detail.
point students to the "Building Types"
web page (or print it out as a handout) and have them work in small
groups to identify characteristics of each building that are a result
of it's function.
As a class,
make a table with building types on one axis and functional feature
on the other. In the empty blocks of the grid, write how each building
type adapts each feature to make it work for its purpose. [The first
row is filled out as an example.]
to shed snow and rain
or flat depending on when it was built and how large the building
or slightly pitched with windows at the top for light and ventilation
to allow as much storage or living space as possible on the upper
age" 'scrapers tapered at top to allow light into the street.
Topped with "gimmick" to draw attention
Floorplans follow function
are scale drawings of a building from above that architects draw to
help them arrange space and direct traffic through a building. (Picture
a dollhouse with its roof off.) You can often guess the plan of a building
by looking at its exterior. After viewing one of the video segments,
rewind to a view of a building and ask students to sketch its floor
plan as they imagine it from what they can see in the video.
on the outside of the building are clues telling how the building is
laid out on the inside?
How do people
move around inside the building? How does the building's design help
or hinder the flow?
Find a floor
plan of the school and discuss the impact of the plan on school life.
How possible is it to get from one class to another in time? Where are
the bottle necks? How might they have been avoided? What changes to
the plan would you recommend to improve the school's function?
In the Zone
What are zoning
laws? Why were they enacted?
How well do
factories and houses mix? Schools and commercial districts?
Many of the
older neighborhoods featured in the Pittsburgh History Series developed
before zoning laws. What are these pre-zoning neighborhoods like as
a result? [large areas of "mixed-use"] What are the advantages of a
mixed-use community? What are the disadvantages?
are now planning more mixed-use neighborhoods than zoning laws usually
permit. For example, Washington's
Landing combines housing, recreation, and light industry. Why? What
uses mix well together? What uses don't go well together? Why? Where
and how should the line be drawn between different kinds of land uses?
Reaching for the sky
Does the spire
on a church have a function or is it there just for appearance? What
about a church dome? Why?
What is the
symbolism of a church spire? What is the symbolism of a dome? How is
a spire different from a dome or vaulted ceiling in symbolism? How are
they similar? How are they different in function? [Hint: picture removing
the spire and dome--which buildings would still be usable? Domes are
structures that serve the function of supporting a roof over a large
space without columns in the middle to obstruct the view.]
use each of those structures in their churches, synagogues, and temples?
Why would they favor one over the other?
Most likely to succeed
these questions while pausing the video at a particular building, while
looking at any building in a photo or in real life, or after completing
the Mainstreet Mural activity.
building does its job well and looks attractive in its environment.
How "successful" is this building you drew at doing its job? How well
does it serve its function? How were people using the building? What
works well and what doesn't work well?
if any, can you see have been made over the years? What future improvements
would you suggest that the owners make to its appearance? Éits function?
What do you
think works best about the appearance of the building? What do you think
works least? How does the building fit in with the land and buildings
around it? What styles of architecture can you identify in the mural's
...But I know what I like
One of the
fun things about architectureÐlike all the artsÐis that no one ever
agrees about what makes a building look good! Play the segment of the
Downtown tape about people's "love-hate" feelings toward Philip
Johnson's PPG Place.
the students think about its designÐdo they "love" or "hate" it? Why?
What are their favorite things about its appearance? What are their
least favorite things about its appearance?
Now look at
several of the other buildings on the Downtown
tape (Burke's Building, Park Building, Arrott
Building, Benedum Trees
Building, William Penn Hotel, Frick Building, Union
Trust Building, Gulf Building,
Koppers Building) and what students like and don't like about their
appearance. It's OK to have very different opinions, but students must
explain why they feel the way they do.
What can older
buildings tell us about the past?
How do they
help us understand the people who built them originally or used them
Why is it
important to learn about the past? What can the past tell us about the
Do you think
saving or reusing older buildings is important? Why or why not?
more buildings rescued? What factors to decision makers have to keep
in mind when deciding what to do with old buildings.
Why do you
think St. Peter's Episcopal in Oakland didn't "make the grade"? Why does the old Beulah
Presbyterian continue to survive? What is the difference between
those two situations? Why did Station
Square survive, but Jenkins
Arcade was torn down at about the same time?
What are some
of the special buildings in your community? [List on the chalkboard.]
events happened in these buildings? Whose story do they help explain?
What is your best memory about each of these places?
Ask each student
to write down the names of the three landmarks they think are most important.
Collect the nominations and tally the votes on the chalkboard. Which
landmarks does the class think are most important? Why are these landmarks
important to your community?
decide to tear down on of these most important buildings, what would
you say or do to try to change their minds? What other uses would you
suggest for the building to "recycle" it? This is called "adaptive
reuse" and is how a train station came to be Station
Square and a post office the Pittsburgh