The American College of the Building Arts

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The Historic Liberal Arts

The purely academic courses at the American College of the Building Arts consist of historic liberal arts classes such as Math, English, Science and History. In addition to providing the classes you recognize in any college, our classes are integrated across disciplines.

Our classes go beyond the basic requirements of each field and make a special effort to demonstrate relationships and connections with the building arts. Problems in the math or science classes are very often based on real problems within the apprentice labs. History requirements at ACBA are met through a two-semester course called Architecture and Society which focuses on architectural history, while not neglecting much of what is normally taught in a western civilization course.

Upper-level courses include classes in such areas as historic preservation, business administration, and the interdisciplinary capstone course.

Beyond Liberal Arts

Several courses have been designed especially to support studying the building arts. All students take six hours of design. This is supplemented by three hours of computer-assisted design (CAD), and a three-hour course on building arts leadership.


Beyond regularly offered core courses, students must take at least three elective courses during their junior and senior years. While all of these elective courses have some connection to the building arts, they follow a liberal arts focus on theory and context in addition to hands-on practice. For more information about courses, please see the student catalog.

Spring Electives

Advanced Architectural Computer Graphics

This class will expand upon the skills learned in ARCG 201. The first portion of the semester will focus on developing high quality documentation drawings that meet the requirements of the Historic American Buildings Survey. The completed drawing set will be submitted to HABS, and will compete for the Charles E. Peterson Prize. The second part of the semester will build on the 3D computer modeling skills touched on in the first semester.

Sustainable Masonry

Sustainable Masonry takes students through an introductory course which focuses on the world’s oldest and most widely used building material: MUD. This course will cover the history of this building material, multiple methods, how to apply these methods in a modern world, as well as other sustainable & low-carbon design practices. Students will be exposed to actual architectural projects and will have an opportunity to work hands on with several of the covered methods of construction.

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