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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Spiro Kostof video Lectures on History of Architecture for Media Resources Center, UC Berkeley

Speaker: Spiro Kostof
Lecture title: Spiro Kostof Lectures Online
Lecture topic: History of Architecture, different era in architecture

lecture compilation no: V-02to28

lecture format: Video
date: mixed
delivered in: Media Resources Center, UC Berkeley
lecture series: Spiro Kostof Lectures Online, 26 lectures all together


Lecture Details:

Spiro Kostof was a member of the faculty of the Department of Architecture from 1965 to 1991. A dedicated teacher and brilliant lecturer, he inspired an entire generation of architecture students. …Although Kostof's scholarly activities were prodigious, his first love was teaching. Allan Temko, architecture critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, has described Kostof's gifts most succinctly: “Spiro Kostof is not only a great architectural historian, but one of the supreme teachers of our time... There is no question about the profound impact that Professor Kostof has had on students over the past quarter century. Wonderfully free of academic hauteur and pedantry, he has provided them with fresh insights into vernacular architecture at the same time that he has brilliantly analyzed the most important monuments in the world.” The thousands of students who studied with him--or who toured history and architecture with him through slides and words--were profoundly touched by his vision. His ideas were propelled by the dazzling and dramatic lecture style that transformed what others might have seen as mundane into provocative observations. In his lecture courses and seminars, he was a demanding teacher, but he never demanded more from others than he did from himself. Even after decades of teaching the survey of architecture and urbanism, he would work until early in the morning rewriting the text for the following day's lecture or assembling its images. [from Calisphere ]

It is fortunate for the Berkeley campus and for future generations of architectural students and scholars that a series of colorful and enlightening lectures from Kostof’s 1991 Architecture 170 class were captured on video tape. The Media Resources Center has recently digitized these and made them available for online viewing.

Brief descriptions of the lectures and links to online video are posted below.

Lecture Video links:

Spiro Kostof (1936-1991) was widely recognized as one of the world's leading architectural historians. He taught this, his last course, in the spring of 1991 in the Architecture Department of UC Berkeley's College of Environmental Design. The 26 lecture course "A Historical Survey of Architecture and Urbanism" covers the period from the Florentine Renaissance to the post-modernism of the late 20th century. Prof. Kostof was known for exposing the relationships between architecture and the people and cultures that built it.and was the author of A History of Architecture: Settings and Rituals (1985), The City Shaped (1991), and The City Assembled (1992).


Viewing these lectures requires Windows Media Player or Flip4Mac


Pt. 1 - January 24, 1991
The Renaissance in Florence. The influence of classical Rome. The cathedral of Florence from Arnolfo di Cambio to Filippo Brunelleschi. Novelty of viewing single buildings as generators of spacial responses beyond immediate periphery.


Pt. 2 - January 29, 1991
Renaissance Rome. St. Peter's Basilica, Brunelleschi and Michaelangelo in Rome.


Pt. 3 - January 31, 1991
Spain and other Renaissance Countries. Islamic architecture meets the Renaissance at the Alhambra in Granada. The Escorial in Madrid.

Pt. 4 - February 5, 1991
Clash of Cultures in the New World. Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) as the Venice of the New World is dismantled by Spaniards. New mission cities established by Franciscan, Dominican and Augustinian orders. Ornamentation as response to protestant reformation.


Pt. 5 - February 7, 1991
Istanbul under the Ottomans. Brief history of Constantinople and the Hagia Sophia. Turkish vernacular domestic architecture and development of the külliye.


Pt. 6 - February 12, 1991
From Istanbul to Isfahan. Prof. Kostof speaks fondly of his hometown, Istanbul, and the Ottoman development of Topkapi Palace and the S�leymaniye Mosque. Isfahan's history and the Shah Mosque are presented in contrast.


Pt. 7 - February 14, 1991
India in the 17th and 18th Century. Development of Delhi from polytheistic Hinduism to the Islamic mausoleum. Mughalarchitecture as represented by Quwwat-al-Islam mosque*, *Qutub Minar, and Akbar's Fatehpur Sikri and Taj Mahal.


Pt. 8 - February 19, 1991
The Baroque in Rome. Pope Sixtus V establishes a vast comprehensive plan for eastern Rome. St. Peter's, Piazza del Popolo, and Piazza Santa Maria della Pace. Professor Kostof at his most passionate talking about Baroque Italy.


Pt. 9 - February 21, 1991
Baroque Urbanism Beyond Italy. Baroque's Grand Manner in L'Enfant's Washington, DC; Paris; Versailles; and St. Petersburg. (Lecture ends after 35 minutes).


Pt. 10 - February 26, 1991
The Grand Manner and the Radial Concentric City. The Grand Manner as more than a Baroque construction; from the ancient Delphi, Pergamon, and Palestrina to Hitler's Berlin. The radial concentric city from the first city of Baghdad to the Palma Nova to the 18-20th century secular socialist experiments of the Royal Saltworks in Chaux, France, Ebenezer Howard, and Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti.


Pt. 11 - February 28, 1991
Urban Squares of the 17th and 18th Centuries. Another manifestation of the Grand Manner of Baroque explored in the plazas of Paris and find their parallel in Wren's Cescent of Bath and Spain's Plaza Mayor.


Pt. 12 - March 5, 1991
Colonial North American Cities. The colonial cities founded by Spain (St. Augustine and Santa Fe), France (New Orleans) and England (Newport, RI and Williamsburg, VA) are explored in detail.


Pt. 13 - March 7, 1991
The Grid in North American Cities. Savannah, Philadelphia, Manhattan Island, and Salt Lake City are examined. Jeffersonian utilization of grid to promote agrarian republicanism over newly acquired western territories.


Pt. 14 - March 12, 1991
Suburbs in America and Europe. Beginning with Glendale, OH (1851) and Llewellyn Park, NJ (1855) suburbanization is examined as land speculation facilitated by new modes of transportation: ferries, street cars, trolleys and, ultimately, the automobile.


Pt. 15 - March 19, 1991
19th Century Building Types. From London's Crystal Palace to Providence, RI's shopping Arcade: museums, monuments, government buildings, libraries and department stores as a reflection of the emerging bourgeoisie and liberal state.


Pt. 16 - March 21, 1991
Transportation and the City in the 19th Century. The landscape of industry necessitates transformation of production and transportation: 18th century turnpikes, early 19th century canals supplying mills and warehouses, railroads and their stations and bridges, the rise of the hotel, streetcars, trolleys, cable cars, subways and finally the automobile.


Pt. 17 - April 2, 1991
Housing the Worker in the 19th and 20th Century. Responses to industrial revolution's urban migration starting with England's cottage industry housing and including Parisian communitarian housing, mill housing in New England, private slums and reformer housing in England and the US, Bund society housing in Germany, social democratic housing in Amsterdam, and socialist housing in Vienna.


Pt. 18 - April 4, 1991
April 4, 1991 - Urban Form in Paris and Vienna from 1850 to World War I. Haussmann's transformation of Paris to support modern infrastructure, remove the poor from the city center and quell political unrest are paralleled in the Vienna of Camillo Sitte and Otto Wagner.


Pt. 19 - April 9, 1991
Garden Cities and Cities Beautiful. Burnham's City Beautiful Movement in America is contrasted with Unwin's English Garden Cities; the two movements devolving into American suburbs predicated on the strict separation of work and domestic life.


Pt. 20 - April 11, 1991
Skyscrapers. From their first appearance in Chicago and NY in the 1870's to San Francisco in the 1990's skyscrapers exemplify the tension between single monumental buildings in the service of individuals and planned urban landscapes designed by agencies ostensibly serving the collective good.


Pt. 21 - April 16, 1991
The Modernists. Art Nouveau, Mies van der Rohe, and Frank Lloyd Wright set the stage for Gropius' Bauhaus best exemplified in Frankfurt, the USSR's Vkhutemas School and New Constructivists, and Le Corbusier's many about-faces.


Pt. 22 - April 18, 1991
Fascist and Nazi Architecture and Planning. Mussolini's "linea diretta" redesign of Rome contrasted with Hitler and Speer's plan for Berlin.


Pt. 23 - April 23, 1991
New Colonial Settlement Patterns. From the imposed colonialism of the Grand Manner in New Delhi to the self-imposed colonialism of Corbusier's rationalist Chandigarh and Louis Kahn's elemental forms in Dhaka.


Pt. 24 - April 30, 1991
Post World War II Modernism. European Modernism promoted in response to massive need to rebuild initially takes different forms in East and West Berlin. In America, Mies van der Rohe becomes the most imitated and iconic modernist.


Pt. 25 - May 2, 1991
Design in the Fin de Siècle. Responses to Modernism from new modernists (Moshe Safdie, Shadrack Woods, and Archigram) to Robert Venturi's Learning from Las Vegas. Post-modernists such as Michael Graves reject a single style and steer architecture towards pure art while edge cities eviscerate central cities to support the service and information economy.


Pt. 26 - May 7, 1991
Informal Q&A with students prior to the final exam. (Poor audio quality.)

Commencement address, Spring 1987
Presents video coverage of the Spring 1987 commencement address to graduates of the College of Environmental Design by UCB Professor of Architecture, Spiro Kostof 

Program notes for the Kostof Lecture Series by David Eifler, UC Berkeley Environmental Design Library, 2008.
Videos digitized and maintained on server by Gisèle Herrmann, Media Resources Center.
Original Kostof lecture videos were provided courtesy of the Environmental Design Archives (


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