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Engineering > Architecture > Building Technology I: Materials and Construction
 Building Technology I: Materials and Construction  posted by  duggu   on 11/30/2007  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Fernandez, John, 4.461 Building Technology I: Materials and Construction, Fall 2004. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 08 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA


Buckminster Fuller's Biosphere in Montreal, Quebec. (Image courtesy of Nicolas Janberg of Structurae.)

Course Highlights

This course features a complete set of lecture notes and a unique interactive learning tool that explains structures and structural forces.

Course Description

This course offers an introduction to the history, theory, and construction of basic structural systems as well as an introduction to energy issues in buildings. It emphasizes basic systematic and elemental behavior, principles of structural behavior, and analysis of individual structural elements and strategies for load carrying. The course also introduces fundamental energy topics including thermodynamics, psychrometrics, and comfort. It is a required class for M. Arch. students.

Technical Requirements

Java® plug-in software is required to run the Java® files found on this course site.



Course Outline


  1. Cultural Context: Technology exists within a cultural context. Therefore, contemporary building technology derives from a rich historical and cultural evolution of technique and form that augments the ability to design intelligently.

  2. Holistic Building: Understanding individual building components and the details necessitates understanding the guiding architectural intentions, performance requirements, process of manufacture and assembly, and systematic organization of various building assemblies.

  3. Invention: Architectural invention is the medium for the determination of form at all scales and permeates the physical architectural result. The making of details is not a deterministic process that seeks to optimize a singular solution. Be careful of optimization. "Il n'y a pas de detail dans la construction"

Scope of Course

  1. History and Theory of Building Systems and Architectural Components

  2. Statics of Architectural Structures
    • Structural Morphology
    • Basic structural elements and force systems
    • Equilibrium equations
    • Material behavior

  3. Building Systems
    • Performance requirements
    • Identification and specification of elements

  4. Sustainable Strategies
    • Best practice
    • Resource efficiency

  5. Materials: New and Old

  6. Systems Integration

Values to Instill

  1. Possibility of Invention: both for engineers and architects

  2. Craft of New and Old Technologies: good practice and new processes

  3. Critical View of Product-Driven Design

Intended Results

  1. Familiarity with requirements of architectural assemblies

  2. Understanding of broad range of "good" solutions

  3. Understanding of contemporary issues in the design of architectural assemblies

  4. Understanding of design process

  5. Understanding of construction process

  6. Identification of opportunities for "invention"

  7. The initiation of a career-long study of the expressive potential inherent in the solution of technical assembly and construction situations

  8. Development of strategies for collaboration between disciplines


1 Course Introduction  
2 Foundations  
3 Foundation Diagrams  
4 Introduction to Sustainable Design Issues Assignment 1 out
5 Architecture Structures Assignment 1 due
6 Architecture Structures 2  
7   Quiz 1
8 Wood 1  
9 Wood 2  
10 Active Statics  
11 Exterior Envelopes  
12 Window Technologies Quiz 2 topic coverage review
13 AL Roof System  
14   Quiz 2
15 Exterior Envelopes 2  
16 Masonry 1  
17 Masonry 2  
18 Masonry 3 Assignment 2 out
19 Metals Assignment 2 due
20 Concrete 1 Assignment 3 out
21 Final Session Final Quiz/Assignment 3 due   Tell A Friend