Sophomore Seminars

Place: Making Space Now


This seminar argues that architects are ultimately "place-makers," and questions what that means in the contemporary world. Part I investigates the meaning of the word "place." Additional background for understanding contemporary place-making will include a critique of the history of modern place-making through an examination of modern form. Part II examines two traditional notions of place by scale: from "home" to "the city." What elements give these conceptions of space a sense of place? To answer this question, themes such as memory, mapping, and boundary, among others, will be investigated. Part III presents challenges to the traditional notions of place discussed in Part II. Topics addressed include: What does it mean to be "out of place"? What sense of place does a nomad have, and how is this represented? What are "non-places" and how can architects design for these spaces? Part IV addresses the need to re-conceptualize contemporary space. The role of digital and cyber technologies, the construction of locality in a global world, and the in-between places that result from a world in flux are topics discussed in this section of the seminar.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Thomas Beischer

Thomas Beischer has been teaching architectural history and theory at Stanford for over 10 years in the departments of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Art and Art History. Thomas graduated from Stanford in 1991 with a B.A. in art history and also has an M.A. from Williams College in art history and a Ph.D. from MIT in history, theory, and criticism of architecture. His publications have ranged from investigations of the development of architecture within the urban fabric to examinations of the formation of identity in contemporary art.