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The Use of Historical Precedent in Teaching Structural Analysis to Architecture Students.

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Structural Education Applications in Architectural Engineering

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1509.1 - 22.1509.16



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Paper Authors

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Sinead MacNamara Syracuse University

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The Use of Historical Precedents in Teaching Structural Analysis to Architecture StudentsCourses in structural engineering are a vital but oft overlooked facet of the architecturecurriculum. Structural and historical analyses of innovation in structural engineering andthe evolution of structural form provide a useful pedagogical tool. Such analysesfacilitate student understanding of fundamental structural principles and foster a greaterappreciation for the design potential associated with structural optimization. Historicalanalysis represents a rich opportunity to engage architecture students in the subjectmaterial of the traditional structures course, as it is a mode of pedagogy that is familiar tothem and it has the potential to foster a deeper understanding of the role of structure inarchitecture. This paper describes an introductory technology course for architecturestudents where analyses of structurally innovative historical precedents are used tointroduce the fundamental concepts of engineering mechanics and structural analysis.Students in the course also perform independent analysis of historically significant worksof engineering. Student evaluation of this approach has been very positive. They reportthat the use of the historical material made the course more interesting, but also thatlearning new technical concepts was easier when viewed through the lens of realstructures, they further reported that studying examples of structural innovation led to agreater understanding of the role of technical expertise in the architectural design process.Objectively, their learning performance in the course and their subsequent integration ofstructural concepts into their design work has also improved. This pedagogical approachpresents a significant opportunity for both architecture and mainstream engineeringeducation.

MacNamara, S. (2011, June), The Use of Historical Precedent in Teaching Structural Analysis to Architecture Students. Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18348

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