Lecture Audio

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The information displayed here corresponds with the Fall 2022 Architecture & Society course. Please ask your TA if you have any questions.


ARC 308 Course Syllabus Spring 2023
ARC 308 Scavenger Hunt Spring 2023
ARC 308 Pecha Kucha Information Spring 2023
ARC 308 Think Sheet Information Spring 2023
ARC 308 Building List 2023


ARC308 Sample Test #1.pdf
ARC308 Sample Test #2.pdf
ARC308 Sample Test #3.pdf
ARC308 Sample Final Exam



Talk #2 – Architecture and Society—Overview
Talk #4 – Architectural Values


Talk #6 – Architecture as Sensual/Visual Experience
Talk #7 and #8 – Architecture as Intellectual/Artistic Experience
Talk #9 and #10 – Systems and Order
Talk #11 and #12 – Numbers/Mathematics/Geometry as Inspiration of Form
Talk #13 and #14 – Nature/Biology/Organisms as Inspiration of Form
Talk #15 and #16 – Synthesis—Form


Talk #17 and #18 – Buildings and Land
Talk #20 – Geography/Topography/Ecology
Talk #21 and #22 – Structure/Materials
Talk #23 and #24 – Construction/Tectonics
Talk #25 and #26 – Architecture in Response to Climate
Talk #27 – Synthesis–Physical Considerations


Talk #28 and #29 – Designation and Organization of Use
Talk #31 – Architectural Determinism
Talk #32 and #33 – Humanism at a Personal Scale
Talk #34 and #35 – Humanism at the Scale of Organizations/Communities/Bureaucracies
Talk #36 and #37 – Meaning in Public Buildings
Talk #38 and #39 – Synthesis – Human Factors


Talk #40 and #41 – Technology as a Source of Beauty
Talk #42 and #43 – Perfection and Compromise
Talk #44 and #45 – A Few Good Buildings

Student Feedback

Architecture And Society

On the first day of Architecture and Society, you said that architecture was your drug and you wanted to get all of us hooked on it too. I’m hooked. I took your class because someone told me it was an interesting fine arts elective. I knew nothing about architecture and now I cannot go anywhere without noticing my surroundings…
– Amanda M.


You opened my eyes to how buildings really affect our lives and society as a whole and for that I thank you.
– Jessica E.


Uniquely interesting individual and an excellent communicator. I currently work in the field of architectural design part-time and I can tell you, most architects are not very good communicators. They typically keep to themselves and are more introverted. However, Larry is a very interesting person with a load of experience in architecture, world cultures, sociology, etc.. Nearly all the pictures he shows in lecture are ones that he took, and it really shines through that he knows what he’s talking about when he lectures. My one favorites part about taking his class was that he teaches you how to appreciate architecture of all kinds, not just one particular period or style of buildings, but really teaches that there is beauty and art in architecture that we see everyday. The course is very well organized and logically easy to follow, in terms of the buildings that you study as you progress through the semester. I highly recommend this course to anyone interested in architecture, design or construction. If I could, I would take it again just to listen to his lectures.

Drawbacks? His tests are not easy and take some studying and really getting to the heart of the subject matter he talks about in class.
-Anonymous- Corporate Communications Major


Great professor. He is a cool guy and knows how to make some slightly boring material interesting. For example, a student fell asleep during a lecture and he walked over next to him, pointed and simply asked, ‘Am I really this boring? Really?!”. Everyone laughed- he is definitely not boring.
– Anonymous


There is a reason why his class is very popular. Though it is not an easy A, if you love architecture or want something different, this course is for you………Sometimes it can be difficult to stay awake during his slides of buildings. His voice is like a soft lullaby and he uses very dramatic words. Sit in the front! YOU MUST read the three books.
– Anonymous- History Major


I just want to let you know that I really enjoyed your lectures and even though it was one of my harder classes it was definitely one I enjoyed attending. The reason I am writing is that although the class is over I feel like I learned so much and I will use the things I learned in your class……..I never thought I would ever hear about any of the buildings or architects or stories you would tell in your lectures outside of class and I came to find that fortunately I was wrong. Thank you so much for making me a well rounded person and I know I am no architecture expert, but your class was a great learning experience. Once again thank you so much.
– A. Benitez


….no attendance policy per se, but you really can’t miss any lectures. He records lectures and posts them online but since when did you sit and listen to a 90 minute class at home? The material really makes a lot more sense while you’re listening to Professor Speck show it to you and it builds on itself, so you really can’t afford to miss class ever.
– Lindsey


Great Professor!!! Probably one of the best professors I’ve ever had.
– Anonymous


Your class did not simply transform aspiring architects; it also encouraged non-architects to value and support the profession. My sister Kathleen, a Plan II/Advertising graduate, took the class in 2000. Though she did not transfer into architecture (having other, more passionate, interests), she now looks back on the class as the best she took at the University. When I asked her why, she said the subject matter was presented in a clear, interesting way, one that made her appreciate my field and made her think about her surroundings. Like I began to do after taking the class, Kathleen now evaluates spaces she inhabits with a more critical eye and is better equipped to understand modern building in a historical context. Kathleen said something else that struck me: when she took notes in that class, she did so to remember the ideas Professor Speck presented for herself, and not for the exam. That attitude is rare among students- and it stems from Professor Speck’s impressive ability to teach.
– Sarah G.


I was a student in your Architecture and Society course and I don’t doubt that it was the course I enjoyed the most and learned the most from during my time at UT- the William Whyte film intrigued me to say the least and now I’m studying for a Masters in Urban Planning at Columbia!
– Danielle T.


…..may I add that today’s lecture was fantastic. I’ve been in art history for two years now and have never attended a lecture that exhilarating.
– Victor B.


He’s like a user-friendly missionary.
– David H.


…..Ever year I would get this unending stream of students stopping in my office who were so excited by what they were learning in Larry’s class, that now they were certain they were going to be architects and therefore they had to be admitted to the School of Architecture.
– David H.


….you are definitely the coolest professor on campus- period. It is because of people like you that the world is a better place.
– Benjamin C.


This class was definitely one of my favorites at UT thus far and has been one of the classes to teach me the most about any sort of topic so far. Thanks for the great class.
– Ben


….This course is probably the best introductory architecture class in the country. It seems impossible, but even in such a large class, he changes the lives of his students. I know of numerous instances where students have gone on to accomplish extraordinary work and they have credited Larry’s class with their inspiration. In one such instance a student of this amazing class was inspired to design a highway viaduct in a new way while working as an intern in the state highway department. That significant piece of work became the most widely published piece of road in the country and he has gone on to be one of the best-known highway designers in the country. Few faculty can handle a class this large with elegance and effectiveness….
– Andrew V.


….I want to tell you that I really enjoy your class. I really do. You facilitate such creative thought in me and it’s rare that a professor cares enough to put forth such energy into his presentation and discussion. In the reading about Hamilton, there was one line that struck me as applicable to you—“I have never discovered in another (so much) matter to captivate the understanding and manner to charm the heart.” You have this energy and passion for design that is inspiring, and it is extremely admirable in a professor. I’m hoping to be a professor someday and I hope I can bring my ‘A-game’ like you do to every class. I don’t really know how to explain it but I really appreciate how you lecture with an honest voice. You aren’t there to sugar coat your lectures/discussion ideas, and you just give us your honest thoughts as they are, and that is truly appreciated.
– Vicki C.

Creative Problem Solving

At the start of the semester, I remember you mentioning that you wanted us all to live and breathe this class, and I didn’t quite understand what you meant at the start, but as these last couple classes have come and gone, I find myself thinking about what we discuss in class, in my everyday life, and I bring it up in conversation with friends too. This class engages some part of my brain that’s been asleep for much too long and I’m quite appreciative of that.
– Vicki C.


The class was incredibly inspiring. I would definitely recommend it to anyone. I have a whole new outlook on life……
– Anonymous


The course was really well organized and the instructor really encouraged me to participate and apply the ideas of the class to real-life issues. The discussion in class was extremely conducive to understanding the material in depth. The assignments, think sheets and the project kept everyone thinking about the class and constantly involved.
– Anonymous


This course changed my entire plan. I found the material extremely personalized and both Professor Speck, and the teaching assistants made me feel valued.
– Anonymous


Really enjoyed the readings. One of the few classes in which I looked forward to the homework.
– Anonymous


Larry is amazing. He has pushed us to analyze all of these pivotal figures in our society. Speck’s intensity and love for teaching is inspiring, and this class has become my favorite.
– Anonymous


I really enjoyed this class because I was challenged to think differently. Larry not only taught us valuable information, he inspired us to live meaningful, creative lives.
– Anonymous


This class was so beneficial and interesting as well as challenging. I loved every minute of it.
– Anonymous


This has been one of the most interesting classes I have taken. The interest taken in the students is amazing and the lectures were always interesting. I feel I’ve grown hugely as a person since taking this class.
– Anonymous


What an incredible experience to be in Creative Problem Solving with Professor Speck. I hesitantly signed up for this class not knowing much about the UGS requirement. Within the first few minutes on the first day of class I was blown away. Already! This class has fulfilled every detail of what it means to be a significant course in my time as a college student. It has challenged me many a time. My writing and the content has been relentlessly critiqued. Both TA’s were extremely helpful. I do not have enough room to continue to praise the excellence that is Larry Speck, his vision for life….this course all the way down to his choice of TA’s.
– Anonymous

Teaching Awards

  • Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award | 2009
  • UT Most Interesting Professor Award | 2008
  • Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship, The University of Texas at Austin | 2007
  • Edward J. Rominiec Award, given by Texas Society of Architects to outstanding architectural educator | 2005
  • Chancellor’s Council Teaching Award, The University of Texas at Austin | 2005
  • Outstanding Teaching Award (lecture), School of Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin | 2004
  • Selected to be member of Academy of Distinguished Teachers, The University of Texas at Austin | 2004
  • “Architecture and Society” website selected for “Best of IT Collaborative Award” in University of Texas at Austin Innovative Instructional Technologies Awards Program (with Anne Beamish) | 2004
  • Amigos Distinguidos Award, The University of Texas at Austin Hispanic Faculty and Staff Association | 2001
  • Distinguished Service Award, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture | 2001
  • Glenn Maloney Award, given to a faculty member at The University of Texas at Austin for “a single exemplary contribution” to the University | 2000
  • Robert Murff Excellence Award (for Outstanding Support of Career Services at The University of Texas at Austin) | 1999
  • W. L. Moody Centennial Professor of Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin | 1998
  • “Eyes of Texas Excellence Award,” given in recognition of outstanding contribution to student life at The University of Texas at Austin | 1997
  • UTMOST Best Professor Hall of Fame–Compilation of ten years of UTMOST Best Professor Selections | 1992
  • AMOCO Award (Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching), The University of Texas at Austin | 1992
  • One of three professors at The University of Texas at Austin nominated by the University administration for “1990 Professor of the Year” sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education | 1990
  • William Blunk Centennial Professor (Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching), The University of Texas at Austin | 1990
  • Dad’s Association Teaching Award, The University of Texas at Austin | 1989
  • One of three nominees by The University of Texas at Austin for Piper Professorship (statewide teaching excellence award) | 1987
  • Listed on “Honor Roll” of The University of Texas at Austin Faculty by UTMOST Magazine | 1986
  • The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture Outstanding Teacher Award | 1984
  • Selected one of twelve “Best” teachers at The University of Texas at Austin by UTMOST magazine | 1984
  • Texas Excellence Teaching Award, The University of Texas at Austin | 1984
  • Roland Gommel Roessner Centennial Professor of Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin | 1984
  • Selected one of ten “Up and Coming” faculty members of the “New Generation” at The University of Texas at Austin by Alcalde magazine on the event of the University’s Centennial | 1983
  • Cass Gilbert Centennial Teaching Fellowship in Architecture, The University of Texas at Austin | 1982
  • The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture Outstanding Teacher Award | 1978
  • Fulbright Senior Scholar (Australia) | 1978

Lecture Audio

* Dear Students,

As we venture into these uncharted waters, please understand we are doing everything we can to provide the best learning experience possible. Below you will find remastered versions of the audio files for your upcoming lectures. If you right-click you can open the link in a new tab and then, in that new tab, right-click again on the mini-player, you can download the file. This should give you more playback flexibility, if needed. We are taking this day by day, as you are, but please don’t hesitate to reach out with your concerns. We will help as much as we can!

Sincerely, your TA’s
March 30, 2020


Architecture and Society

Course Description

This course views architecture as a potent means of cultural expression and as an essential economic, social, technological and communication tool in any sophisticated society. It is less an architectural history course than an investigation of the role architecture plays or can play in contemporary culture. Lectures and discussion sections focus on issues and factors that influence architectural design as well as the means by which architecture helps shape attitudes and behavior. The goal of the course is to make students more aware the importance of the physical environment and to encourage them to be activists in helping to shape the built world.

Creative Problem Solving

Course Description

This course is intended to expose students to processes of thinking required in a diverse range of disciplines that involve creative problem solving. Its focus is on the common thread of “design” that runs through fields as divergent as software design, filmmaking, entrepreneurship, engineering design, architecture, political strategy, experimental science etc. It begins by increasing students’ familiarity with creativity and its essential role in the current U. S. economy. A great deal of the semester is then spent looking at case studies where we seek to understand a specific problem and investigate the processes by which an individual or team of people came up with a creative solution.

Architectural Theory I

Course Description

The primary goal of this course is to help students become better designers by identifying values, principles, perspectives and ideas that can guide and inspire their design. The connection between theory and design is explored through investigation of the work of twenty or so key architects of the 20th and early 21st centuries. From that exposure to both ideas and work students are encouraged to investigate their own backgrounds and values to begin to ascertain approaches they feel strongly about as an inspiration for their own design work.