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DSN 121 — The Architecture of Information: Radical Buildings and Visionary Projects in Silicon Valley

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Mondays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Sep 24—Dec 3
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Oct 7
Units: 2
Tuition: $480
Instructor(s): Barry Katz
Status: Closed
Please Note: No class on November 19
7:00—8:50 pm
Sep 24—Dec 3
10 weeks
Drop By
Oct 7
2 Units
Barry Katz
Please Note: No class on November 19
The iconic periods of world architecture were marked by buildings that expressed structurally the activities inside and the culture outside: the pyramidal power structure of dynastic Egypt; the post-and-lintel transparency of democratic Athens; the spiritually uplifting verticality of Gothic cathedrals; and even the crisscrossed, gravity-loaded assembly lines of the Ford Motor Company, which communicate so evocatively the industrial culture of flow. But how do buildings express the culture of legions of software engineers, ensconced in cubicles, writing code in Silicon Valley?

The answer thus far has been uninspiring, to say the least: Generic structures lining our freeway offramps have given Silicon Valley the featureless character of a gigantic computer chip. But there are signs that this is starting to change, that we are beginning to see the emergence of an authentic “architecture of information.”

Beginning with a sweeping overview of the major “inflection points” in world architecture, this course will examine in detail a selection of Silicon Valley projects that are beginning to define what may prove to be a new era of architecture: Apple Park, by Foster + Partners; the new Facebook campus, by Frank Gehry; daring projects for Google by Heatherwick Studio and BIG; bold experiments for Nvidia (Gensler), Samsung, WeWork, and other new approaches to work in the age of information.

Barry Katz, Consulting Professor of Mechanical Engineering (Design Group), Stanford; Professor, Industrial and Interaction Design, California College of the Arts

Barry Katz is the author of six books, including most recently, Make It New: The History of Silicon Valley Design. He is also a Fellow at IDEO. He received a PhD from UC Santa Cruz.

Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.