Exploring Architecture As An Art Form

Architecture is considered a visual art like painting and sculpture. Architects design buildings using a creative process by which they manipulate art elements to create a unified and pleasing artistic statement. The difference between a painting and architecture is that a building has a function and must be designed with safety in mind.

When architects start working on a project, they prepare quick sketches that suggest areas of function dictated by the client. Next, architects use a process of design to draw, and then refine the form of the new building. Understanding architectural design is simplified if you think of the "façade" or face of the building as a painting. Then, you can use design language to talk about the image you see.

On this site, you will practice identifying Sensory Elements that appear on a building. These are the lines, shapes, colors and textures that we first notice in art. Next, we go on to analyze Formal Elements that are created when architects arrange the lines and shapes to create a composition that is balanced and unified. We examine the skill of the architect and craftsmanship of the builder by studying Technical Elements. Finally, we take a good look at the overall impression of the building to determine its Expressive Elements. Looking at architecture this way follows the Aesthetic Concept Model of Dr. Harry S. Broudy.


(All Images and Contents ©2002 The Center for the Study of Art and Architecture)