Introduction to 200c

Representational Practice in Architectural Design

Ari Bible, Elliot Kwon, and Kyle Steinfeld for ARCH 200c, Fall 2020

Contemporary courses on architectural design methods, such as this one, seek to inculcate students with the ideas, cognitive strategies, and professional methodologies that define our discipline. In communicating those skills that separate architects from non-architects, experts from laypeople, courses such as this struggle to overcome a history of professional indoctrination.

As such, I would open the course with a question:

What does it mean to be an expert?

We might observe:

  • To be an expert affords an advantage,
  • and confers a certain type of social status.
  • However, to wield expertise
  • also carries risk.
  • Expertise may be seen as a skill that lends competitive advantage,
    and that distinguishes professionals from laypeople.

    A 20s video slowed down to 2m of passengers boarding the first-class compartment of the local train in Mumbai.
    Amit A (@Amit_smiling), 2019

    Expertise may be seen as fluency in a given medium,
    and that enables freedom of exploration and expression.

    Clips of Professor Walter Lewin drawing dashed and dotted lines during his lectures at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    YouTube user ItMustBeCollege, 2011

    Expertise may be seen as the deep knowledge of a given technique,
    a trait that establishes a "path dependency" on a certain way of doing things.

    The Wrong Tool for the Job
    Rory Preddy, 2019

    Expertise may be seen as the product of an obsession,
    itself an intentional act that expresses the voice of an author.

    Most people: I guess balloons are ok
    Jan Hakon Erichsen

    In this course, we have a certain amount of indoctrination to do - a certain responsibility to communicating the doctrine of architectural production, and to facilitating competency in those methods that are the inheritance of our discipline. As we do so, however, I hope that we can keep in mind the multi-faceted nature of the expertise we are each developing.

    I have endeavored to make space in the class for a variety of forms of expertise. While at times I will insist that you learn certain techniques - to walk certain paths - that are central to the discipline, we will also seek out opportunities for you to develop your own voice, to nurture your own obsessions, and to define expertise for yourself..

    These aims are reflected in the three primary goals of the course.

    Pedagogical Goals & Learning Objectives

    This course presents three pedagogical goals that address distinct aspects of representational practice in architectural design.

    In summary, we aim to foster the development of an awareness of the social and cultural context of representational practices, a proficiency in the technical canon of architecture, and a capacity for the appropriate application of representational techniques.

    Awareness of Context

    The course aims to cultivate an understanding of the foundational discourse and diversity of approaches to architectural representation.

    Regan Lauder, 2017

    How does an engagement with various forms of representation support our intended understanding and direct the readings of others?

    Progress toward this goal will be reflected in the ability to:

    Proficiency in Technical Canon

    The course aims to develop a fluency in the canonical methods found in architectural practice.

    Elliot Kwon, 2018

    What are the dominant representational modes that architects employ? To what ends are these techniques typically chosen, and for what purposes are they best suited?

    Progress toward this goal will be reflected in the ability to:

    Capacity for Appropriate Application

    The course aims to encourage the development of a mature and controlled relationship with a range of representational forms and formats.

    Chenyu Huang, 2018

    How can we effectively match the demands of a situated design problem with an appropriate design method?

    Progress toward this goal will be reflected in the ability to:

    Themes and Modules

    The course is organized into modules, each framed as a drawing practice appropriate for particular situations you are likely to encounter as a designer.

    For each of these topics we should keep in mind the three pedagogical goals described above. We should ask:

  • Two-Dimensional Graphic Projection Drawing
  • weeks 1-5
  • Three-Dimensional Digital Modeling
  • weeks 6-9
  • Raster / Vector Techniques
  • weeks 10-14
  • We may see how these modules progress on the "Modules" tab on BCourses.

    Methods of Instruction

    The class proceeds through a combination of lecture, workshop, discussion, presentation and critique. As discussed on the course syllabus, evaluation of student performance in this course is carried out through (in descending order of importance): projects, problem sets, in-class activities, participation in-class discussions, and group critiques.

    In this section we detail the various instructional formats and means of evaluation related to the course.

    Whole-Group Meetings

    Each Thursday we will gather together the whole class at the start of scheduled class time. This is the only moment that we'll all be together in the same "space". At times, this meeting will be brief, as little as 30m, and will center on checking in, centering, and orienting the group to where we are in the course. At other times, we will use the whole of our allotted time for something that we all work on together, such as a problem set or a major pin-up.

    Section Meetings

    Each Tuesday and Friday, we will gather in our assigned sections, each consisting of a limited number of students, for a class meeting led by one of our wellborn and refined GSIs. These meetings offer us a chance to check-in a smaller group format, and to facilitate a range of class activities, discussions, and "helpdesks" which include more personalized instruction.

    Asynchronous Workshops

    Each week we will assign a set of materials for you to review individually, and on your own time. These workshops are the primary means by which course lectures and technical demonstrations are communicated. A variety of media is employed. Each may consist of a pre-recorded video hosted here on BCourses and/or textual material that has been made available on Google Drive. These media are typically accompanied by supporting demonstration files and templates.


    The evaluation of progress toward meeting the three goals of the course - an awareness of context, a proficiency in the technical canon, and a capacity for appropriate application of technique - will be assessed according to the aims described above, and through the means described in this section. Your final grade in this course will be determined by your performance in the areas summarized here and detailed below.


    Proficiency in Technical Canon

    First and most concretely, a series of in-class problem-sets will be offered for each major topic of the course, and are intended to evaluate proficiency in a narrow sense, focusing on the canonical skills associated with the topic. These are timed exercises intended to assess your proficiency in a set of skills we've introduced in class. These problem sets will be administered on selected Thursdays during our whole-class meeting, and are expressed on BCourses as "assignments" that are only available for a narrow window of time.

    Jin Chenglin, 2020
    The Form and Gesture Project

    The Form and Gesture Project, in which students apply techniques related to foundational graphic projection and drawing extraction from 3d models, offers another opportunity to assess technical proficiency.

    Capacity for Appropriate Application

    Since a capacity for appropriate application must be evaluated in context, this course may offer one or more representational projects, which may include the documentation of a case-study project or the experimentation with representational formats and techniques.

    The Standard Set Project

    Central among these projects is The Standard Set Project, in which students perform a thorough graphic investigation of a case study project; from research and documentation, to 3d modeling, to drawing extraction, to post-production in vector and raster editing contexts. This project culminates in a final exhibition that occurs during final exam week.

    Awareness of Context

    As an awareness of the context of representational practices is best addressed alongside a discussion of architectural history, we will rely on the close relationship with our "sister" course in this regard. In ARCH 270, a project that concerns the production of an architectural manifesto will be detailed, and will involve elements that touch on design presentation and argumentation. As a part of this project, you will prepare a visual-verbal presentation for our course: a Pecha-Kucha style slide presentation that combines spoken word, text, and image, and in which you will offer an argument for how representational method supports the design approach outlined by your manifesto.

    The Graphic Canon Project

    This "manifesto" presentation is a major element of our Graphic Canons Project.

    Good Citizenship

    The course seeks to provide mechanisms that encourage healthy practices of design, documentation, and participation in a studio culture. Being an active participant and positive contributor to the course can take a variety of forms, including participation in class discussions, completing in-class activities with your peers, and keeping up with the assigned asynchronous workshop material.

    Finally, to encourage the rigorous following of asynchronous workshop material, we have arranged for regular "quizzes" to be completed here on BCourses to check-in you. These weekly check-in quizzes serve a number of purposes:

    Typically, because these quizzes include questions about what topics should be expanded upon, they will be due each week on Thursday, a few hours before our whole-class synchronous meeting. This will give us a bit of time to understand the results, and to respond accordingly.

    Since we're mainly concerned that you're keeping up with things, and would rather your attention remain fixed on class projects, we will drop your lowest two weekly quiz scores. With this flexibility in mind, as a general policy we won't allow late submissions for these quizzes. If you have any extenuating circumstances that prevent you from completing this material on time, please reach out to your instructor.

    Technologies of Communication and Collaboration

    The class will communicate and collaborate via a variety of technologies.

    Besides the obvious use of email, the following technologies will be employed:


    The Berkeley branded implementation of the ubiquitous Canvas platform is called BCourses, and we have established a site on BCourses for 200C. Canvas is "learning management system", or LMS. All LMS's are terrible and soul-sucking. While BCourses is no exception, it is not more terrible or soul-sucking than any of the others. In this brave new world of remote learning, I can't see how we avoid this.


    We have set up the #course-arch-200c channel for the class in the wursterhall Slack workspace, and will invite you all to join using your UC Berkeley email account. Slack is a messaging and file-sharing workspace that operates via a web interface and as a mobile application. Most class communications will be sent using this technology, so please do set it up right away, configure it so you receive notifications, and monitor it closely!


    G Suite for Education is the Google suite of cloud-based productivity tools branded with UC Berkeley logos. These tools are provided as a part of your "BConnected" account, and includes email, calendar, and (most importantly for us) Google Drive. Some of the course material for the semester will be distributed via Google Drive which requires that you log in with your UC Berkeley email account, so please be sure to set up your account and get comfortable with viewing documents in this manner.


    This thing you're looking at now is how I'll present most of my lectures for 200c. You can always count on being sent a link to any lectures I offer, and can rely on them remaining up for the remainder of the semester in case you want to revisit anything that I covered. If you're really curious, you can find an archive of my past lectures (both offered in the context of a course like this and, well, not) at the link below.