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ARCH 215 – Architecture in Capitalism: Corporations and the Built Environment from McDonald's to the Medici


Corporations are sometimes said to be like people: they have heads and bodies. But unlike people, corporations can extend around the world, absorbing new buyers and sellers, subdividing, splitting, and reconfiguring themselves with astonishing speed and flexibility. Corporations are guided by capital; and like capital, they mutate quickly around economic requirements, or they die. Buildings provide corporations with a “headquarters” or “head office,” where architecture emblematizes business identity through branding. Corporate bodies, by contrast, take shape where work is done and goods are sold. In both cases, buildings give faceless financial entities an image—but also a significant capital cost, and a substantial time drag. This course charts corporate development and occupied space in and around buildings and cities throughout the world, moving in reverse chronological order. Six units include non-place corporations, skyscrapers, and the multinational, the City of London since WWII, the birth of the highrise and the American city, colonial corporations across the globe, and early monastic and banking corporations in Europe.


Class Instruction Format:  Online

Mon, Wed  1:00-2:30pm


Claire Zimmerman

Plan Your Future
Housing, Community, and Economic Development
Land Use and Environmental Planning
Physical Planning and Design
Transportation Planning
Global and Comparative Planning