Visual Analysis Paper

Choose a favorite building and space for a visual analysis of 4-5 sharply and insightfully written pages (double-spaced, 11 or 12 pt.). Be concise and to the point. Go from visual description to an analysis of the architecture and accompanying space in style, iconography (i.e., symbolism), and context, with sustainability features. Begin with an imaginative thematic title, which sets out your ideas. Sometimes a title and subtitle are useful with a colon to indicate your topic and approach, to draw us in (e.g., Spiro Kostof, A History of Architecture: Settings & Rituals). This is up to you; just come up with a good title and put your name under it (single-spaced) with double-spaced essay and indented paragraphs (of 5 spaces) with page numbers after pg. 1: standard form.

After your title, develop an insightful paragraph, introducing the building and space and your central ideas (your thesis or perspective) for your essay. Develop this in an interconnected, progressive visual analysis from general features to specific details of the architecture and space, integrating and supporting your visual analysis. Be sharp, vivid, and visual in your analysis. From the visual evidence, draw out the larger implications of your analysis in a concluding paragraph. Through your words and analysis, help us to experience (to “see”) the building and space: put us there. You might call this the “poetics” of architecture and space: the ability of architecture and space to represent a “culture” and shape “communities,” then (when it was built) and now (for you, the modern viewer).

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The purpose of this essay is to train you in seeing and analyzing your surroundings, the built and landscape environment, to raise questions, issues, and critical perspectives. Do not be afraid of “critiquing” a building and space, but make sure this comes out of your argument, not simply an opinion without foundation. This is not a research paper, but a visual analysis, a typical opening exercise in the History of Art and the History of Architecture and Urban or Landscape Studies. Spend some time with the building and space with pad of paper or computer in hand, taking notes, visual observations, from which you will develop your thesis and analysis. Make sketches and take key photographs of the building and space with your digital camera or cell phone. Submit two or three (maximum) key images at the end of your essay to illustrate your points. These are not add-ons, but the subject of your visual analysis. Integrate style, iconography, and context in your visual analysis.

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