Course Syllabus

Course Description:

8-28-2013 23-01-10This course explores the interrelations between building functions, loads, structural system, materials and construction methods. Topics addressed are structural building layout, design, structural detailing, and documentation of predominantly large-scale buildings and other structures made of steel, concrete, engineered wood and masonry.

Students will be exposed to a wide range of topics centered around structural systems and will be encouraged to develop an integrated approach to planning that considers efficient and appropriate structural solutions. Concept-based design projects and assignments will provide an opportunity to practice this approach.

Emphasis is placed in this course on development of efficient structural form, conceptual and preliminary structural design (using software and approximate calculation methods), integrated design and structural detailing.

Meetings: Fall Term – Mon, Wed 9:30-11:00, Design Building 312
Credits: 3

  • ARCH 653 – 01 is primarily for M.Arch. students

Students will gain from this course:

  • More soon…


  1. Systems, pattern and precedent:
    1. Regulatory constraints
    2. Structural loads
  2. Form, structural organization and layout
  3. Horizontal systems
  4. Vertical systems
  5. Lateral systems
  6. Long-span structures:
    1. Approximate and preliminary design
    2. Designing using software
    3. Optimal design
  7. Material performance: Properties, uses and detailing

This course covers NAAB-requirements for structural systems.

Required Materials:

Get this before our first class:

It would also be helpful if you still have access to the text from Tec 2:

Optional Literature:

I expect you to have access to all of these reference books (these should either be available in your studio or in the library):



  • IES VisualAnalysis (version 17) is the software installed on the UMass IT computers. This is a very easy to use structural analysis program. You can use this program for free on any of the OIT computers (in the Design Building or the library for example) or get your own copy.
  • We will also use smaller programs and apps like TopOpt.


Alexander C. Schreyer, M.A.Sc., Dipl.-Ing
Senior Lecturer and Program Director BCT 

Office: Design Building, Room 318
Office hours: Sign up at
Phone: +1 (413) 545-1976


Rules, Exams and Grading:

Pre-requisite: Tectonics 2 (ARCH 650 / BCT 530) or equivalent – An understanding of forces and moments, force systems, free-body diagrams, trusses and moment and shear diagrams.
Co-requisite: none

Contacting Instructor: Office hours will be announced at the beginning of the term (in class and on Moodle). Aside from these times, students can arrange meetings with the instructor or simply state any questions in an e-mail (faster response).

Course Website / LMS: This course’s main communications platform will be its Moodle site. Students must make sure they can access it reliably. While the Moodle site is usable on phones and tablets, some tasks may require the use of a computer.

Computers: While there is no requirement to bring a personal computer to class, students must have access to one and be familiar with common office-type applications (e.g. Word and Excel) and email. If this course requires acquiring and installation of software, it is the student’s responsibility to make sure their computer is capable enough and then perform the installation themselves. The instructor can provide advice for common computing questions, but ultimately it is up to the student and UMass’ IT help desk to resolve any issues. On-campus computers are available in many locations, for example in Design Building 260 or 235 (printers available) or any IT classroom computers.

Students must also have a means for storing and exchanging files such as an external hard-drive, USB stick, UMass Apps (GDrive), BoxUMass U-Drive, or any other removable storage. If you use removable storage, write your name and email on those (they are frequently left behind)!

If a student has any problems with this, contact the instructor early on so that arrangements can be made.

Attendance: Regular class attendance is expected but not mandatory. Attendance is mandatory and will be recorded for labs and lab components (e.g. guest lectures and presentations) only.

Absences: Whenever possible, unavoidable absences for labs and exams need to be discussed with the instructor prior to the lab or the exam (in person or in an e-mail). Appropriate documentation will be required. After-the-fact notifications will only be accepted if no possibility of prior submittal existed. If you have to miss an exam due to a university-accepted reason, contact the instructor before the exam (if possible) to arrange for a solution to this problem. Other than for approved reasons, make-up exams will not be given.

Students are responsible for obtaining missed course material. Only portions of the full course content are available on Moodle. Students are encouraged to copy someone else’s notes and to contact the instructor only if they are still missing any material after that.

(Late) Hand-in: Due dates will be set at the time of assignment and are published on Moodle. Assignments and lab reports must be submitted to Moodle on time and (unless stated otherwise) email submissions will not be accepted. Late submittal (without prior instructor approval) will incur the following grade adjustments: -5% per day (including weekends) until the day, when the solutions are published and the corrected work is returned. After that point, students will receive 0% (an F) for the missed hand-in. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure that work is uploaded to Moodle.


30% – 5-6 Projects / Assignments
30% – 1/2-term project
30% – Mid-semester and final quizzes
10% – Participation

Letter Grading:

A ≥ 93.0 % | A− = 90.0-92.9 %
B+ = 87.0-89.9 % | B = 83.0-86.9 % | B− = 80.0-82.9%
C+ = 77.0-79.9 % | C = 73.0-76.9 % | C− = 70.0-72.9 %
D+ = 67.0-69.9 % | D = 60.0-66.9 %
F < 60.0 %

Grades will be calculated based on the rules set up in Moodle’s gradebook. Letter grade conversion then follows without any further numerical rounding.

Grievance Procedure: If you feel that an awarded grade is not accurate for whatever reason, you may dispute it by submitting a written explanation together with the graded material to the instructor within two weeks of receiving the graded material.

Special Needs: All reasonable efforts will be made to meet the individual needs of the student. If students have a learning disability or need special accommodation they are encouraged to make an appointment with the instructor early in the semester to discuss their needs. All discussions will be kept strictly confidential.

Academic Honesty: The University Academic Honesty Policy applies (see here:  It covers plagiarism, cheating, fabrication, and facilitating dishonesty. Occurrences of any of those practices will be dealt with according to university policy. Original write-up of homework is required by each group/individual (as applicable) for a given assignment or lab report.

Classroom Behavior: As per building policy, it is not permitted to consume food in the classroom. Students must also silence all phone, text, and other communication tools during class. Any disruptive behavior will be sanctioned appropriately.

Copyright and Privacy: No component of the course (printed and online materials, lectures, labs, discussion sessions etc.) may be recorded (audio or video) except for personal use, broadcast, published, or re-published without the written consent of the instructor. Violations will be considered a copyright infringement and sanctioned appropriately.