Architecture highlights at MIT

Course 4, the Architecture Department at MIT, offers many, varied classes in visual arts, and art and architectural history, many of which fulfill HASS (humanities, art, social science) requirements. These Course 4 classes feature both hands-on experience, as well as historical and literary analysis of art and architecture, and focus more on the experimentalist nature of art. By offering the Art, Culture, and Technology (ACT) program, the History of Art and Architecture program, and specialized architecture classes, MIT’s Course 4 allows a range of study on artistic expression and its history.


The Art, Culture, and Technology program looks at the role of art in society and analyzes artistic methods and practices in distribution, production, and study of art. In terms of visual arts, the keystone class in this stream is 4.301, Introduction to Visual Arts. Student work on hands-on projects in three different media: body (wearable medium), video, and public space. The instructor, Professor Azra Aksamija, says that students should come with an “open, playful mindset” and “be willing to experiment and interested in hands-on art making.”

Another class to consider is, 4.322, Introduction to Three-Dimensional Art Work (more in depth, but a similar format to 4.301). In addition, there are two outstanding photography courses in the ACT program: 4.341, Introduction to Photography and Related Media and 4.344, Advanced Photography and Related Media. Catherine E. Koch ’14 had the following feedback regarding the two classes: “The professors in both 4.341 and 4.344 were super involved and I could tell that they really enjoyed teaching the class and always gave thoughtful feedback on my work.” Lawrence Q. Barriner G added, “Taking the intro and advanced photography classes was one of the best decisions for my MIT career I’ve ever made … [these classes] influenced my critical view of science and the technocratic atmosphere that seems so ubiquitous around campus.”

4.351, Introduction to Video and Related Media, is another artistic and experimentalist class. “It completely exceeded my expectations and is one of the best HASS classes I have taken,” said Sara D. Goheen ’14. “We viewed a variety of video work. Through the viewings and assignments, students explored a variety of video techniques and styles like montage, dialectics, and performance art. The instructors and TA were a great resource, and the hands-on help from them was invaluable.”

History of Art and Architecture

The History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art program offers classes that look at social and physical context of buildings and cities, as well as at the context in regards to philosophical, political, and material considerations. 4.601 Introduction to Art History and 4.605 Introduction to the History and Theory of Architecture provide an excellent overview. 4.601 focuses on painting from the Renaissance through the 20th century. “The [4.601] recitations were the most memorable part of the class … comfortable places to just learn through discussion,” said Eduardo D. Russian ’13. “[In 4.605], you’ll learn about architecture throughout history that you’ve probably heard of before, but you’ll learn to look at it all in a different way,” Ami M. Wang ’14 added.