The first architectural design class I sat through in college centered in no small part on studying styles, sub-styles and the design elements which define them — style ranging from the Georgian Style to the High Victorian Gothic Style, from the Federal Style to (this is one I love) the Italianate Renaissance Revival Style.
After committing the myriad minutiae of these styles to memory, the course syllabus dictated that each student select an architectural style and execute floor plans, elevations and details in that style. Had the class been entitled “A history of Architectural Styles”, or perhaps “Copying Solutions to Problems Past”, my expectations would have been lower and my attitude a little better.
A year or so after this class I came across a then recently published book entitled “Your Engineered House” by Rex Roberts (M. Evans & Co., Inc., NY, NY). For the first time, in my experience, someone approached the design and construction of dwellings from an engineering and philosophical perspective.
Perhaps the weightiest line from the book is “What do I want?” not “What should I have?” The book is out of print now, but it’s available used online. It’s a book you’ll read in one sitting. It’s that compelling.