course
Modern Japanese Architecture

Apr 2013

I took Professor Reynolds' Modern Japanese Architecture just to fulfill a general requirement, and went into the class prepared to pass/fail since it sounded like an intense class with mainly architecture/art history majors--and this class had nothing to do with my major. That said, in my four semesters at Columbia, I can definitively say that this class has been my absolute favorite. This was a class where I actually looked forward to each lecture. Not only is the material incredibly interesting, Reynolds' lectures will keep you interested for the entire hour and fifteen minutes. Sure, you can take a Facebook break every so often, but for basically the entire lecture, he will keep it interesting and keep you focused. His snippets of wry, somewhat self-deprecating humor will make your day, and you will fall in love with this man. His lectures are based not on textbook photos or internet sources, but from buildings that he has photographed himself, that he found fascinating or significant, and will tell you short anecdotes about his visit and experience at the building site. I'm not an architecture major so there isn't much I can say about the class for other architecture students, but all the designs we studied were absolutely gorgeous and its history incredibly rich. From the beginning of the semester to the end, we really do see the evolution of urban Japan from a more traditional setting to a hybrid of western and traditional culture, to finally, having a modern architectural tradition of its own. Reynolds will lecture the class through its evolution in a historical context, tying and connecting each design and architect to the rest of the world, or to future movements and trends. Reynolds is so invested and passionate about this subject that his enthusiasm is infectious and he will pull you in. I honestly cannot say enough good things about this man. If you go to his office hours, he will devote as much time as he possibly can to talk about whatever topic you wish. I went two days before an essay was due with only a vague outline of what to say, and yet he took me seriously and discussed the topic with me at length. Also, it speaks volumes that, the one time I happened to sit next to a prospie in class, she took out a piece of paper and pen and jotted a few things down that Reynolds was lecturing about. I was so genuinely interested in this class that I ended up not needing to pass/fail--this is a class where the amount of work you put in seems to justly reflect in the grade you get (which is sadly not something you can say about so many other classes and professors...) SO basically, if you're considering taking this class, DO IT. You will not regret it.