Mathematical Excursions to the World’s Great Buildings

This is a second mathematics course for Arts and Letters and Architecture students. As the Roman architect Vitruvius pointed out 2000 years ago, architecture is a broad enterprise bringing together virtually all the elements of the human experience. This course focuses on three of those elements: aesthetics, structural aspects, and related mathematics. The architecture of the world’s great historic buildings will be the environment in which the narrative of this course develops. The aesthetic and structural properties of these structures are described following a chronological line.

The related mathematics is drawn from today’s Euclidean geometry, trigonometry, the properties of vectors, coordinate geometry in two and three dimensions, and calculus. This mathematical discussion also flows along historical lines. It is the defining goal of this course to intertwine the architectural and mathematical stories and to illustrate how they inform each other. We will see that the mathematics provides clarifying insights into the architecture, and in turn, that the architecture is a stage that gives visibility to abstract mathematics.