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College of Architecture
Texas Tech University
Mail Stop 42091
Lubbock, Texas 79409
Phone 806-742-3136
Email: architecture@ttu.edu



In The Art of Describing Svetlana Alpers writes of a time when the distinction between artworks and maps was not precisely defined, and 'maps were considered to be a kind of picture, and pictures challenged texts as a central way of understanding the world.' Alpers is referring to Holland in the seventeenth century, when cartographers and landscape painters swapped roles and influenced one another, when artists directly engaged with the discoveries and achievements of science and when they produced works that were simultaneously artistic creations and educational tools orientated towards society's wider use. Dutch artists were integrated into the society of their time; their images represented a collective belief and wielded instructional as well as aesthetic impact.
Luca Cerizza
Alighiero e Boetti: Mappa (2008) p. 66-67.

Land Arts of the American West is a field program investigating the intersection of geomorphology and human construction. Land art or earthworks begin with the land and extend through the complex social and ecological processes that create landscape. Including everything from petroglyphs to roads, dwellings, monuments and traces of those actions, earthworks show us who we are. Examining gestures small and grand, Land Arts of the American West directs our attention from potsherd, cigarette butt, and track in the sand, to human settlements, monumental artworks, and military-industrial installations. The program creates opportunities to develop work in direct relation to the complex of forces that define the American West.

Land Arts situates our work within a continuous tradition of land-based operations that is thousands of years old. Analysis of sites visited provides a basis for dialog and invention. Issues of spatial and material vocabulary, constructional logics, and inhabitation serve as the foundation for an investigation through making. Students construct, detail, and document a series of site-base interventions in a context that places emphasis on processes of making, experiential forms of knowing, and transdisciplinary modes of practice.

Land Arts is a semester long field program where we camp for over fifty days while traveling throughout the American West. The immersive nature of how we experience the landscape triggers an amalgamated body of inquiry where students have the opportunity of time and space to develop authority in their work through direct action and reflection. Land Arts hinges on the primacy of first person experience and the realization that human-land relationships are rarely singular.

LAND~SCAPE: operating at the intersection of geomorphology and human construction

Tools evolve gradually through a process of small improvements, use and rejection. The finest tools are a result of a timeless anonymous evolution, and especially identifiable designer tools usually remain as momentary curiosities that do not become part of the real ancestry of the particular tool. Musical instruments, specifically conceived by designer professionals, exemplify these aestheticised curiosities. All great works of art similarly become an inseparable part of the tradition of the art form in question instead of being mere individualistic inventions. Great tools are moulded by the hand and its action directly. Centuries of continuous work have refined the basic tools—knife, hammer, axe, saw, plane—beyond improvement by an individual self-conscious designer, guided by intellectualized ideas of function and beauty.
Juhani Pallasmaa
The Thinking Hand: existential and embodied wisdom in architecture (John Wiley & Sons, 2009) p. 48.

ARCH 5502 – 302 (graduate students, 5 credits)
ARCH 4000 – 001 (undergraduate students, 6 credits)
Architecture Building Studio 608


This course will investigate our relation to the landscape of the American West through the creation of situated works. Particular attention should be paid to the examination of material and conceptual edges, limits, and thresholds. The specific nature and scope of the works produced will be determined by each student’s research trajectory and be evaluated in context with the transdisciplinary range of our journey and dialog.


The course will provide time for students to develop and realize works in the field. Progress will be discussed during seminar sessions and individual meetings with the instructor. Students must define their own research trajectory.


Materials required for this course may be collected on site or introduced as required. No record or trace of the work will be left on site.


The scope and quantity of assignments will be determined in consultation with the instructor. An iterative process of making will be supported and approximately six finished works must be completed for final submission and consideration for the end of term exhibition. All field works must be documented, disassembled, and the site remediated to its original condition. Care must be taken in the production and scheduling of works to insure the completion of this process.

PLACE-LESS~PLACE: mining the shift from unknown to acculturated space

What would it mean to read a drawing?
"“A worker who knows how to read the representation in projection of an object can reproduce that object in all its parts.”
So, this language of lines waiting to be made into objects stemmed from the alphabet. Its lines, like the letters, were conventions. But wait. The conventions were to be gleaned from the projection’s universe of measured lines and angles. The measurements, not the lines, made literacy possible. The numbers and ratios were unspoken, untheorized, untied so to speak, but absolutely essential: they allowed the drawing to communicate like writing; they gave it coherence, consistency, code. Line emerged from the classroom possessing the qualities of a sign but its relation to sense was effected through the measure of the lines and their numerical attachment to the representation of an object, say the geometric projection of the object. For without the measured projection, there was no idea of language. Without the measured projection, the line was severed from industry and its social usefulness. Without the measured projection, the worker could not work, could not, in this way, write. Measurement was everything, measurement was string.
Molly Nesbit
Their Common Sense (2000) pp. 42-43.

ARCH 7000 – 001 (graduate students, 4 credits)
ARCH 3361 – 001 (undergraduate students, 3 credits)
Architecture Building Studio 608


This course explores the process of making space into place through an examination of occupation and intervention with the land. We will develop multivalent definitions of place that span continuums of time and culture to find potential in questions located between disciplines and definitions, between land, art, architecture, infrastructure, industry, and use. We will investigate, analytically and generatively, the presence of habitation and questions of place that extend beyond programmatic performance and shelter from the elements to engage the multivalence of our existence in the particular landscape of the “New West.”

The specific nature of how the American West has been mapped, marked, and divided will serve as an introduction and a point of departure for the creation of a set of documents that will test our methods of seeing, measuring and recording. Particular attention will be paid to operations at different scales. The primary objective for this set of documents will be to record conditions of visited and constructed site-based works, our experience of travel, and human occupation within landscapes. The documents will take whatever forms necessary and should include (at a minimum) photographic imagery, drawing, and written texts.


The course is structured as a seminar with physical documentation seeking to value the integrity of our thoughts and dialog parallel to our actions and constructions. There are three primary components:

  • Seminar: formal and informal discussions of material in the program reader and the evolution of our experience and works. Refer to the program schedule for seminar dates.
  • Documentation: recording the conditions of our work and experience.
  • Process: recording the evolution and development of our work and experience. This will include keeping a daily journal and sketchbook.


The program reader will be provided and additional outside research is recommended (see Land Arts Bibliography). The primary research of our field experience will anchor this course; in addition traditional ‘library’ research completed on campus will also prove helpful.

A journal, field note book and sketchbook is required. These can be developed in single or multiple volumes—however there should be a clear distinction between the acts of chronicling in the journal/field note book and generating or planning in the sketchbook.


Readings and seminar contributions, daily journal writing, daily field note book drawing/analysis, sketchbook, documentation of your work in the field and work created by others, and contribution to the program archive. Submission of work for inclusion in the end of term exhibition is also required. All photographic images from the field and of finished works will be added to the archive of Land Arts of the American West.


Land Arts 2011 Reader
Link to the Land Arts program bibliography.

Back to Land Arts 2011.