course
Introduction to Architecture

Jul 2018

Michael Waters is by far one of the best profs I've ever had at Columbia. He is able to make such minuscule architectural details so enticing and is able to engage his students with his interesting commentary. This class was multi-dimensional and never felt bland. The TAs also did a fantastic job in not necessarily reiterating lecture materials but really deconstructing key themes and ideas and making connections to the Columbia University architecture. Through this class, I was eager to take other architecture classes. Unfortunately, no other architecture professor has been able to replicate Water's enthusiasm and most importantly, his power points. If anything, every presenter should take notes from professor Waters- Professor Waters + power points= power couple. The workload is also very manageable and is a great class for students with little to no architectural background.

Dec 2017

Easily one of the best professors I have ever had. Introduction to Architecture is everything that an introductory level class should be and more, and Prof. Waters leads the class brilliantly. He is so well prepared and so intelligent. I voluntarily went to lecture every single time even though it wasn't necessarily because I wanted to hear what he had to say. Also, he is so prepared and his powerpoints blow everyone else out of the water. You really really have to take a class with him. This guy deserves a gold nugget for sure.

Jan 2014

When you start this course, Benelli's accent will make it hard to understand, but that's probably mostly due to the fact that you're unfamiliar with the architecture terms so it all sounds foreign. Just pay attention and you will adapt quickly. The course is interesting. You learn a lot about Western architecture and it's nice to walk around the city, recognizing the different characteristics of the architectural styles used and knowing why the architects made those choices. He posts the power points for the class every morning on CourseWorks. You have to take good notes (I recommend typed) and attending the discussion sections (which are only about 5 for the semester) is EXTREMELY helpful, especially approaching exam times. The TAs relieve a lot of stress. My first exam I nearly failed, but through the TAs help for the final, I managed to get a B in the class overall.

Nov 2010

take it. even if you don't have to. it's super interesting and fun. there were a lot of slides for the midterm and final, but i think everyone did alright even though it was basically impossible to actually learn them all. the main thing thought is that benelli is a fantastic lecturer. he does have an accent, but you'll get used to it. and if you have questions he's happy to address them. the weekly drawings were a great break from sitting in the library like we have to do for most of our other courses. the discussion sections were great preps for the exams, but otherwise pretty boring.

Apr 2010

Benelli is great. At first I was very concerned about his accent but after about 2 weeks, you get used to it. He is a great lecturer and the fact that he is a practicing architect really shows--he really does care about the subject. He often interrupted himself to ask the large class if everyone understood everything. When someone asked a question (even stupid, irrelevant ones) he always gave the question a thorough and insightful response. He's got a sense of humor too which made this class seem like a nice break in my day rather than another 1.5 hour lecture. As for the exams, he expects you to know the date, name, and architect of all the works in the seen in class (and always posted promptly on courseworks)--standard for art history, I know, but it gets extremely difficult and confusing when you have to differentiate one floorplan of a church to another floorplan of a similar church. My only advice is to start studying very early if you really care about getting 100% on the ID section of the exam. The best part about this course, though, was how it really made me appreciate architecture specific to New York. The drawing assignments force you to explore New York and make observations as to how all the previously studied, mostly European-in-origin, styles had been transplanted to New York. Now, when I'm walking around, I find myself constantly staring up at the building facades. This class not only enriches your architectural knowledge but your experience in the city. Truly the BEST art history class I've ever taken.

Dec 2009

This was a fantastic course - you get a great overview on architecture beginning with ancient Greece and ending with present day architecture. Professor Benelli's accent can be a bit difficult to understand at first, but his lectures are phenomenal. I always looked forward to going to class. The drawing assignments can be intimidating at first, but they're very enjoyable once you get comfortable with your drawing skills, plus they're also a great way to get yourself out of campus and visit the city's architectural landmarks. If you are interested in architecture or if you have a visual arts requirement to fulfill, this class is HIGHLY recommended.

Aug 2004

if you are trying to choose between harvard or columbia for summer school in architecture, forget columbia. taking a class with moji barataloo really puts everything in perspective so well--her incorrect use of all the buzzwords like "discourse" and "iterations" (havent we overcome all that postmodern bs?), her arrogance (she will take all opportunities to poo-poo you instantly without giving you much patience or explanation while doing the double-talk of "encouraging" and "pushing" you at the same time--in the end, most people end up with a charity grade of a "C+" no matter how hard you work), and her sheer lack of enthusiasm for aspiring students. at all costs, ask the director to swicth to a different class, or better yet, go to harvard. this person is a living reason why columbia remains substandard.

May 2004

Hillary Ballon is a terrific professor - eloquent, erudite and in love with what she is teaching. Certain things that have been pointed out are true - she seems to take herself very seriously, she does seem to have a cruel streak and can come across as somewhat fake at times - but that has nothing to do with her teaching. In fact, her eccentricities made her all the more compelling. She treats every class like a performance, she is the diva, and she puts on a great show - at turns merely informative and educational, sometimes even inspiring (her modern architecture classess were especially awesome).

Nov 2003

I have mixed feelings about Professor Ballon. On one hand, she's incredibly well-versed in architectural history and can go on for hours describing each buildings' unique features, etc., but on the other hand, she can be so incredibly ... fake? She spews forth all this vocabulary, which at first sounds intelligent, until you realize that she's using them all wrong. But in any case, the class is incredibly interesting and makes you look at buildings in a different light. You're asked to make sketches of buildings throughout NYC, so you actually do get a hands-on understanding of what you're studying in class. If you want to take a class for fun and personal interest in architecture, this is definitely a good class to start off with.

Nov 2003

I think this class is lots of fun, but it can be boring. Ballon is really enthusiastic and her eloquence will really blow you away, even though sometimes she gets carried away with her own fluency in language. I will put this bluntly, she knows what the hell she's talking about. She is the chair of Columbia's Art History Department. She has this feel about her; she is a successful woman. Her lectures cover architecture's history from the megalithic structures of Malta to Penn Station. I think the class is lots of fun. The slides are spectacular, and the class itself gives you a whole new way of looking at New York. You walk around, and you feel like you understand more. It's quite cool. She has ZERO influence on your grade. Your TA will do that. The readings are really great and you will get to discuss those in your sections. There is a fair amount of reading! We have no textbook and I think that’s just perfect. We read essays and books about architecture. They are arguments, so they are fun to argue about. You will not have to deal with dull texts! These are lots of fun. The weekly sketches will force you to get off campus. Just spend a lot of time on them, and write some good comments, they are graded easily. You’ll cheat yourself if you just do them offline. The midterm is relatively easy. They give you the questions before hand. Prepare essays! There is also a 6 page paper to write, and you have to read a few books for that. In general, I like Ballon. She is so enthusiastic about the architecture of the world around her that she makes you eager to look up at buildings – to experience architecture (as one of your books is called). If you have a gut reaction though, that you don’t like the way she presents the material on day one, then maybe you shouldn’t take the course because it will be like that all along. The class is really consistent, and I like how goes. I’d say go with your intuition. If you don’t like it, get out. Find a TA you like! Anna Vallye is really knowledgeable and eloquent. Her section is great. She lets discussion role, and she is a reasonable grader. She is very approachable. I say, take the class. You’ll really appreciate the world around you in a different way, and that’s the beauty of education, right?