Institutions are the way through which society organizes the chaos of existence into a manageable order. Institutions are cultural expressions and architecture can provide the frame that shapes our experience of the distinctions that define institutional activity and meaning.

Identify an Institution. select a building that embodies an institution such as religion, educational, government, law, military, nation-state, art – cinema, art collection, etc. You will need to visit this building several times over the course of this assignment. Visit the building and be mindful of your experience as you first approach, enter, and explore the building. Write your observations. Use your notes to write a summary of your first visit. Reflect on your experience paying particular attention to the sequence of spaces from outside to inside, when you have the sensation of arrival and settling into the building, how your eye is directed toward certain building elements or attributes, the sounds you hear, etc. In your summary remarks please begin with a definition of an institution as we have come to understand them in this class. [1 page]

Using photography, record how boundaries are defined and the different spatial types used by the designer to create a difference between the institutional space and the everyday. Describe how space is defined and shaped to achieve the desired impact. Be cognizant of the use of dichotomies to draw differences. Describe the generalized behaviors that are associated with the institution and how the space helps to shape these preferred behaviors of the inhabitants of the institution.

Analyze how architecture expresses the boundaries and the thresholds between the everyday and the institutional. Describe how the boundaries and thresholds in your selected building help to define and express the institution’s distinct use of space and time to give it meaning and identity. Use photographs to illustrate your observations and analysis. [3 pages]


For more details about institution, please read the Week 13 – 15.

For more details about spatial types, please see the file “spatial types.pdf”



– Hierarchy
– Public/ Private – Open/Intimate


– Function based on materiality – Leads circulation


– Columns
– Movable Partitions – Solid

Levels & Ceiling Heights


– Welcoming? Fortified? – Thresholds of security?

Spatial types?

– Object to void? Layered? Cellular enclosure?

How to materials change?

– Do materials define circulation, function, private/ public?

– Loud/Quiet, Bright/Dark, Welcoming/Impeding



– at least 3…but more are encourage

– if describing the space to a friend…do your photos support your description?


– Describe how space is defined (what are the architectural/ spatial moves?) – Dichotomies (mass/void, light/dark, sharp/gentle, etc)

– How do these design decisions designate institutional vs everyday day

– How do people behave within this institution?
– What architectural moves promote this behavior?

– Continue to edit research from Week 13 (writing & diagrams)

– Define institution
-What institution does this building represent? Multiple?

– History & Significance
– Why did YOU choose to study THIS building? – Google aerial with context
– Sketch Diagrams

– Look ahead to Final

– Describe thresholds/boundaries
– compile final document
– formatted, 4-6 pages, in-text photos, citations, diagrams, aerials



How does architecture inform function and how people use the space?

How is solid/void expressed within a particular institution?

What values shape this institution?