The normal course load for 4A is studio plus 3 electives. The Rome term is one in which all the courses work together in a synthesis, each providing one vital piece of the puzzle for you. The focus of the term is the relationship between the building and the city.

Each of the support courses, ARCH 428, ARCH 446, and ARCH 449, provides a different layer of the depth of background you will require in order to learn the parameters for designing in the European urban context, a very different approach from the North American model.

We strongly recommend that you elect to take all three courses, as these offer 'local' strategies and skills relevant to your projects in the Design Studio, including settlement and siting considerations, infrastructure, mapping, cultural history, urban form, public space, appropriate architectural language, temporality and adaptive reuse over time. Discussions at desk reviews and in critics will assume that all students are enrolled in the support courses as these courses form the basis for assuming to design in this unique historic urban setting.

The field trips are mandatory if you are enrolled in the corresponding elective course, so please budget accordingly.

ARCH 492: Design Studio

Instructor: Lorenzo Pignatti

This studio course offers a unique opportunity to undertake design studies in a truly rich architectural heritage. The main focus is the nature of the institution and its relationship to the city and its culture.

Prerequisite: ARCH 393 - Design Studio

The Rome term is urbanistic and focuses on the structure and details of public space. The institutional design project this term will be a museum; in the first week of school, as a group we will visit several important museums in and around Rome. 

Required readings

  • Joseph Rykwert: The Idea of a Town
  • Aldo Rossi: The Architecture of the City
  • Alta MacAdam: The Blue Guide - Rome

Recommended highly (available in French or Italian only): Gilles Clément: Manifeste du tiers paysage/Manifesto del terzo paesaggio.

Additional recommended readings

  • J.J. Pollitt, The Art of Rome: c. 753BC - 337AD
  • M. Serres, Rome: The Book of Foundations
  • G.C. Argan, The Renaissance City
  • R. Krautheimer, Rome, Profile of a City
  • L. Martines, Power and Imagination
  • M. Tafuri, History of Italian Architecture between 1940 and 1970
  • K. Frampton, Modern Architecture, A Critical History (Part 2)
  • R. Etlin, Modernism in Italian Architecture

Arch 428: Rome and the Roman Campagna

Instructor: Rick Haldenby

History of settlement and building in Rome and the surrounding area from antiquity to the present. Acts of design in architecture, urban form and landscape related to political, cultural and spiritual authority of Rome. Comparison drawn between the image of the city, represented in literature and art, and the material facts of the place.

Lectures are given on sites in and around Rome and during South Field Trip.

Required readings

  • MacDonald, W.L. The Architecture of the Roman Empire
  • Yourcenar, M. The Memoirs of Hadrian

Recommended reading

Note: Asterix indicates a book that is highly recommended and profitably read before going to Rome.

  1. Andrea, B. The Art of Rome
  2. Berenson, B. The Arch of Constantine
  3. Boethius, A. Etruscan and Early Roman Architecture
  4. Brendel, O. Prolegomena to the Study of Roman Art
  5. Brown, P. Body and Society*
  6. Clarke, E. Rome and a Villa*
  7. Dudley, D. The Civilization of Rome*
  8. Grant, M. Cities of Vesuvius*
  9. Grant, M. Roman Myths*
  10. Hannestad, N. Roman Art and Imperial Policy
  11. Krautheimer, R. Three Christian Capitals
  12. Lanciani, R. The Destruction of Ancient Rome
  13. Lanciani, R. Wanderings in the Roman Campagna
  14. L'Orange, H.P. Art Forms and Civic Life in the Late Roman Empire*
  15. MacDonald, W. The Pantheon
  16. MacDonald, W. The Architecture of the Roman Empire II: An Urban Appraisal*
  17. McKay, A.G. Houses, Villas and Palaces in the Roman World
  18. MacKendrick, W. The Mute Stones Speak*
  19. Richardson, L. Pompeii, an Architectural History
  20. Robinson, O.F. Ancient Rome: City Planning and Administration
  21. Rykwert, J. The Idea of a Town*
  22. Scully, V. The Earth, The Temple and The Gods*
  23. Serres, M. Rome: The Book of Foundations*
  24. Smith, E.B. Architectural Symbolism of Imperial Rome and the Middle Ages
  25. Strong, D. Roman Art
  26. Stierlin, H. Hadrien et l'Architecture Romain
  27. Veyne, P. The Roman Erotic Elegy
  28. Veyne, P. (ed) A History of Private Life From Pagan Rome to Byzantium
  29. Ward-Perkins, J.B. Roman Imperial Architecture
  30. Wells, C. The Roman Empire*

Ancient texts

  • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
  • Vitruvius, Ten Books on Architecture
  • Cicero, Scipio's Dream
  • Livy, History of Rome
  • Ovid, Metamorphoses
  • Petronius, Satyricon
  • Apuleius, The Golden Ass
  • Plotinus, The Enneads

Arch 446: Italian Urban History

Instructor: Rick Haldenby

The Italian Urban History course covers the period from Early Christian and Medieval architecture through the Renaissance, Baroque to the threshold of the Modern in the 18th Century. The course reviews the development of city form during this period, by looking at transformations in architecture, architectural representation (including symbolism and iconography), and the conception of space. Political and cultural transformations within the city and outside of it frame the discussion of the development of the Medieval Commune, new urban thought and design in the 15th and 16th Centuries, the re-emergence of the Roman villa type, and the appearance of Baroque Rome. The Renaissance villa trips and the North Field Trip are officially part of the Italian Urban History course, and many course lectures are presented in situ. In 2015 a series of walking tours in Rome were added to the course. They appear to have been very successful.

Recommended readings

  • Tommaso Campanella, The City of the Sun
  • Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
  • Joseph Rykwert, The Idea of a Town
  • Lauro Martines, Power and Imagination


The sketching project is a long standing part of ARCH 446, and the Rome Program. The sketch book you require for Italian Urban History is a minimum A5 - a typical size in Europe, and you can find one easily at any art supply store once you arrive. There is one four minutes away from the studio, Bottega dell’Artista, Via Cardinale Merry del Val, 18. Please note, I am serious about this minimum size; Moleskines are too small, and so are many North American sizes. Size A5 in metric is 148 mm by 210 mm. You may of course use a larger sketchbook than this, but A5 is convenient for carrying, and you will be doing a lot of walking and field trips. I will ask you to work in pen, not pencil. You will be required to produce 90 sketches (one per day), but you may submit as many sketchbooks as you prefer, or loose A5 (or larger) pages in a portfolio.

Arch 449: The development of modern Italian architecture

Instructor: Lorenzo Pignatti

The course addresses modern and contemporary architecture in Italy, its developments and its theoretical and tangible aspects from 1750 to 1950. The course intends to expand the architectural knowledge of Italy, not only related to Classical, Renaissance and Baroque periods, but also to Modernism.

The course is organized in a chronological sequence and has some specific moments and issues of further investigation. The intention of the course is to offer a broad view of Italian modern architecture, in relationship with the development of the International Modern Movement.

The Italian situation will be paralleled with some of the most significant episodes of architecture and urbanism in the rest of Europe. The work of Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Gropius, Mendelshon and others will be discussed in class in order to better frame the development of modernism in Italy.

The course will also address political and social events of the period considered, to better understand the development of Italian modernism.

Required readings

  • Doordan, D. Building Modern Italy—Italian Architecture 1914-1936, (CD)
  • S. Kostoff. The Third Rome (CD)
  • M.Casciato, Neorealism in Italian Architecture (photocopies)

Suggested readings

  • Goethe, J.W. Travels in Italy . (available at English bookstores in Rome)
  • Benevolo, History of Modern Architecture  Vol. I and II

Other texts

Texts on modern Italian history of architecture

  • Tafuri, M. History of Italian Architecture between 1940 and 1970, MIT Press
  • Frampton, K. Modern Architecture, a critical history. Part II
  • Etlin, R. Modernism in Italian Architecture, MIT Press

Two books on the historic and urban evolution of the city

  • Hibbert, C. Rome: The Biography of a City, Penguin Books.
  • Insolera, I. Roma, Laterza (in Italian)

Modern architectural guides of Rome and Italy

  • Muratore, G., et al, Italia- Gli ultimi trent’anni, Zanichelli.
  • Polano, S. Architettura Italiana. Il Novecento. Electa
  • De Guttry, I  Roma dal 1870 ad oggi. De Luca Editore.
  • Rossi, P.O. Roma. 1904-1980 . Laterza



  • Europe
  • Italy
  • Rome

First part

Rome in 1750:

  • The city between reality and imagination
  • Nolli and Piranesi
  • The vision of the city

The XVIIIth century villa in Rome:

  • The beginning of the museum as a type
  • Winckelmann and the memory of antiquity
  • Gardens as intellectual spaces

Rome capital of Italy:

  • The master plans of 1873 and 1883
  • The great public competitions
  • The search of a new "style" – neoclassicism and eclecticism

Rome at the turn of the century:

  • The master plan of 1909
  • The role of public housing
  • The early development of modernism
Second part

New tendencies in Italy at the beginning of the century:

  • Futurism
  • Pittura Metafisica
  • Novecento

The fascist regime 1:

  • The years of the consensus
  • The "Gruppo 7"
  • The main public exhibitions

The fascist regime 2:

  • The large projects of the regime
  • "Architecture: Art of State"
  • Libera and Moretti

The fascist regime 3:

  • Terragni

The fascist regime 4:

  • The creation of the fascist city
  • The crisis of an ideal
  • The victory of rhetoric 
Third part

Italy after the war:

  • Neorealism
  • The Boom of the Fifties
  • The "Autostrada del Sole"

Italy during the sixties:

  • Critical modernism
  • Urban vision of the sixties

The beginning of a critique: Aldo Rossi

  • Studies on typology and urban morphology
  • Post-modernism or post-antiquity?