CEA Unit 1: Architecture as Art

Introduction to the history and vocabulary of architecture


The world of civil engineering and architecture is a complex one with a long history.  Throughout time, civil engineers have tried to apply new techniques and technology to make buildings and structures stronger and more efficient.  Simultaneously, architects and designers have been developing new styles that combine the function of a building with innovative aesthetics. As you get introduced to the ideas and vocabulary of civil engineering and architecture, we’ll go through three major steps:

  1. Learn about the history of civil engineering and the vocabulary of design
  2. Learn about architecture styles from history
  3. Sketch an architectural model, Design a Photoshop visual, and Build a Revit labyrinth!

When you’re done, you’ll have a good foundation for your continued work in civil engineering & architecture!


(20 pts)  About 3 days

Here you’ll learn about the history of significant civil engineering advances throughout time.  You’ll use those ideas to frame a conversation about the elements of design and the principles of composition as they relate to building design.  You’ll also get to think about how all these ideas have been used right here in Fairbanks!


(30 pts)  About 3 days

With some of the basics of architecture history, principles, and elements taken care of we get to turn our attention to architectural styles.  In the second part of our unit you’ll get an overview of some styles and then choose one to make a careful investigation of. This part of the unit will wrap up with the creation of a poster about your chosen architectural style!


(30 pts)  About 3 days

The last part of our unit asks you to learn about some specific architectural features.  Then, you’ll get to play with our main software Revit for the first time as you design a complete labyrinth following the criteria and constraints of King Minos!

PART 1: History of Civil Engineering

The foundation of civil engineering, architecture, and design

Humans have been building structures of all types for millennia – over that time, many advances, styles, and specific features have emerged to make buildings more impressive and safe.  Here in the first part of this unit we’ll start by introducing some of the history around civil engineering and the advances that have made more complex buildings possible.  Then, we’ll look at the elements of design and principles of design and how they relate to architecture.


 Review the presentation on the history of civil engineering, and be sure to take notes on some of the key advances you recognize and new things you discover!

 Watch the two presentations – Elements of Design and Principles of Design.  Take a full page of notes on these ideas and think about building you know of and how these concepts apply.

 Pick a building from Fairbanks and make a very careful and detailed sketch of the building in your engineering notebook. Label your diagram with different styles and features you recognize from your learning.

History of Civil Engineering

Elements of Design in Architecture

Principles of Design in Architecture

What’s Due In Architecture as Art Part 1: History of Civil Engineering

  • History Notes
  • Elements & Principles Notes
  • Fairbanks Building Review
  • Benshoof’s Check-Off

Here’s what’s due in Part 1: History of Civil Engineering

  1.  Notes on the history of civil engineering in your engineering notebook
  2.  Notes on the elements and principles of design and how they relate to architecture
  3.  Sketch and review a building from Fairbanks, labelling architectural features you can identify
  4.  Have Benshoof check-off your notes and sketches

PART 2: Architectural Styles

An overview of the development of architecture as a form of art

Example Residential Styles

Lathrop Design Architecture Studio Logo

In the next part of our unit, we’ll look at some of the architectural styles and designs that have been used throughout history.  Civil engineers have to worry a lot about the function of buildings – are they strong?  will they meet the safety needs of users? – but the architects get to worry more about the form or the aesthetics of the building.  Architects then are the ones in charge of the cool designs we see in different building styles.

This part of the unit is all about styles in history.  You’ll get to review some of the major ones, and then do some of your very own research into a style of your choosing! Then, you’ll create a small poster in Photoshop that illustrates examples of the style and its key features so that we can print the poster for the room!

Architectural Styles

Residential Styles

Using Photoshop

What’s Due In Bug Bot Part 2: Design & Draw

  • Brainstorm
  • Research
  • Pick Design & Draw
  • Benshoof’s Check-Off

Here’s what’s due in Part 1: Wiring

  1.  Brainstorm at least 10 ideas for what your Bug Bot might look like or be made of
  2.  Look up “Bug Bot Designs” on Google and see what other designs are out there.  Add 5 more ideas to your brainstorm list.
  3.  Pick what your final design will look like, and make a careful drawing in your engineering notebook
  4.  Have Benshoof check-off your careful drawing

PART 3: Architectural Features

Consider different elements used in architecture and build something new!

Residential Building Elements

Residential Architecture Terminology

the last part of our unit asks you to review a little bit of information about different architectural features before building a few models.  Architectural features are the individual elements – like columns, groups of windows called ‘arcades’, or archways – that get combined into larger building structures.  By knowing more about different architectural features, we’re able to discuss architecture in more detail.

Once you’ve reviewed various features, you’ll get to pick a famous building and make a very quick model of it.  Your model does NOT need to be perfect – later in the year we’ll build some very precise architectural models – but rather, your quick model will illustrate some of those basic design elements and also get you a chance to build something quickly in the makerspace!

Finally, you’ll get to play with Revit and build a basic structure.  Revit is the program that we’ll use for all our our architectural designing, and in the part of the unit you’ll spend some time building a custom labyrinth for King Minos on the island of Crete.

Residential Victorian Homes

Changing Styles

Beginning Walls in Revit

What’s Due In Architecture as Art Part 3: Architectural Features

  • Features Notes
  • Revit Labyrinth
  • Benshoof’s Check-Off

Here’s what’s due in Part 3: Build It!

  1.  A full page of notes on different architectural features
  2.  A completed labyrinth in Revit following the provided guidelines
  3.  Have Benshoof check-off your finished labyrinth

Double Check: Unit Expectations

Check what you need to have completed by the unit deadline

The purpose of this unit is to use the Engineering Design Process to wire, design, and build a working Bug Bot.  You should have had the chance to do some soldering, design your own Bug Bot, and use the tools in our makerspace to build your Bug Bot.  If you were really on-task and working hard, you should have also had time to decorate your Bug Bot to make it look super cool.  By the unit deadline, you should have completed and be able to submit the following items:

Engineering Notebook:

 (Part 1) Definition of problem, criteria, constraints, and Bug Bot Overview notes

 (Part 1) Wiring diagram, soldering notes, and wiring reflection

 (Part 2) Bug Bot Design brainstorm, notes, and careful drawing

 (Part 3) Final drawing/picture, half-page written reflection on Bug Bots

Building & Making:

 (Part 1) Wiring should work, soldering should be clean and complete

 (Part 2) Bug Bot design should be carefully drawn out including labels and diagrams

 (Part 3) The Bug Bot should be assembled and should function properly

Benshoof Checkpoints

 (Part 1) Benshoof should have seen your working wiring before you moved on

 (Part 2) Benshoof should have seen your careful drawing before you moved on

 (Part 3) Benshoof should have seen your working Bug Bot