Ruth Connell Writing

Ruth writes about art and architecture as experience, research and speculation.

Ruth writes about many aspects of art and architecture, and wrote about regional factors in architectural education for Architecture School: Three Centuries of Educating Architects in North America, Joan Ockman, Editor (MIT Press, 2012). Connell is currently researching international dimensions of architectural education, intersections of art and architecture, and continues her research on the historic African American church. Connell is the author of “The Deceptive Environment: The Architecture of Security,” published in Transformations of the Suburban and Urban Landscapes (Lexington Books, 2002)

On Art

What Can Artists Tell Architects About Shaping the Everyday Landscape?

A Western Landscape

Experience of the landscape is integral to human cultures, and this experience is phenomenal, culturally subjective and evolving. Our visual culture is in flux, and so is our interpretation of the everyday landscape. Ruth Connell considers the role of artists and photographers in the interpretation of the everyday landscape as cultural activity. Artists, architects and philosophers referenced here include: Henri Lefebvre, Lewis Baltz, Robert Adams, William Christenberry, Andy Warhol, Edward Ruscha, Venturi Scott Brown & Associates, Pierre Bourdieu. Continue reading

The Special Effects Machine: Temporary Architecture at Music Festivals”


Burning Man at Sunrise, photo by Stewart Harvey, 1991

Music festivals and the temporary architecture of music festivals hold particular insights to contemporary culture, and the position of architecture. Decades after Woodstock, the music festival held in upstate New York in August 1969, many music festivals and contemporary events continue the legacy of transitory, communal experience. People flock to short-term events to create temporary communities defined by temporary architecture on temporary sites. This paper considers the festivals known as The Glastonbury Music and Arts Festival, Burning Man, Coachella, and the Baltimore Artscape, and the uptopian value of festival space.Continue reading…

On Architecture

The Sentient Drape: Intelligent Building Layers

Local Intelligence, photo by Ruth Connell

Local Intelligence, photo by Ruth Connell

Biological analogies are a key to understanding the development of a sentient architecture, and a sentient building fabric. Sentience is the ability to experience feeling, and the term sentient drape is used by Ruth Connell to describe the layer of the building fabric that is infused with the ability to feel, and to be responsive in a sentient manner to changing environmental conditions. References to scientists, artists and architects include: Fiorenzo Ormenetto, Jean Nouvel, Herzog and Partner, Edwin Thomas, Janine Benyus, Consuelo De Morales, Roger Hanlon, Philip Beesley, Will Elsworthy.
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The Architecture of Security and the Sentient Drape

Architectural and cognitive cartographies are defined by boundaries, and in the new world that followed September 11, 2001, many boundaries moved into transition – perceptual, political, cultural, ethical and material. The boundary between the visible and the invisible, and the boundary between transparent and the opaque, has been changing. The architecture that defines these boundaries is evolving, moving towards a condition of the sentient drape. Ruth Connell defines this quality of the sentient drape, and its implications.  Read more…

Regional Factors: Forging a Pedagogy of Place

This essay can be found in Architecture School: Three Centuries of Educating Architects in North America, edited by Joan Ockman with research editor Rebecca Williamson, 380-385. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2012, to read more visit M.I.T. Press

Ruth Connell AIA is an educator.

Ruth teaches architecture at Morgan State University in Baltimore, where she is the chairperson of the Department of Architecture.

“So many people have said to me “I wanted to be an architect but I was afraid of the math” or “I just can’t draw.” Math is important to architecture but not the most important. What matters is critical thinking and an investigative mind. And drawing – yes, it can be taught! Our children are not as well served in art as they could be, especially in the middle schools and the high schools, so many people love art but never had the opportunity to learn.

  • writing can be taught
  • drawing can be taught
  • education matters

Architecture at Morgan is my home as an educator and a scholar.  I appreciate my academic colleagues, who are creative architects and scholars at Morgan State University, and I value my students, from whom I always learn something new.