The Institute of Classical Architecture & Art
National Core Curriculum

This document represents the efforts made to compile, codify and memorialize the content that has historically been introduced in ICAA foundation courses since its first six-week Summer Program in Classical Architecture in 1992. It is a direct outcome of one of the strategic objectives identified during concluding discussions of the 2012 National Core Curriculum & Instructor Certification Conference: to provide a clear presentation of the learning objectives, learning outcomes, and resources in the core subject areas, as well as to collect examples of syllabi to serve as models for new instructors. Taken as a whole, the core curriculum document exists both as a record of the dedication and expertise of all ICAA instructors and is an essential resource as we embark upon the next chapter of ICAA education.


In its present form, the document is in large part the result of work undertaken by subcommittee groups formed at the 2012 NCC & ICS conference. Each group was tasked with outlining content and resources and assembling examples of syllabi for five subject areas: Elements; Proportion; Literature and Theory; Drawing and Delineation; and History. A sixth subject area, Design, was added subsequent to the conference and a proposed section for this subject area is included here.

While this document is the direct manifestation of these efforts, it also references the collective experience and wisdom of more than 20 years of ICAA educational programming. This includes courses taught at ICAA National, ICAA Regional Chapters, and in conjunction with partnering institutions and organizations. Syllabi and course descriptions from these courses have informed and enriched this document.


The intention of this document is to directly support and contribute to the future of ICAA education. As options to disseminate ICAA core content broaden and diversify, and as the number of instructors involved in the teaching of our core curriculum increases, this document insures that the subjects and skills recognized as essential are included and given sufficient presence in course presentations.

In sum, the NCC document aims to:

  • Serve as a framework of content that may be consulted during course planning and development.

  • Provide new instructors an orientation to the subject area of their interest as has been historically presented in ICAA courses & programs of study.

  • Provide participants in ICAA education programs a clear set of expectations for core courses and measurable benchmarks for learning.

  • Provide an outline that insures coverage of core content, and which also allows individual instructors the flexibility to infuse courses with their unique experiences and areas of expertise.

  • Provide an outline of core content that is adaptable to all current and future learning options.

  • Provide ICAA Education staff and committees a set of criteria for evaluating and guiding proposals for courses and programs of study, in particular those intended to count as credit towards completion of the ICAA Certificate in Classical Architecture.


The long-term utility of this document depends upon its malleability and adaptability to a variety of learning formats, course types and lengths, and teaching methods. At present, ICAA educational programs include National Continuing Education, National Intensives, Chapter Continuing Education, the Beaux-Arts Atelier, and programs with partnering institutions such as the University of Colorado at Denver.

ICAA courses and programs of study informed by the content delineated in this document have historically and will inevitably vary in structure, emphasis and scope reflecting areas of instructor interest, expertise and point of view, duration of course, as well as varying levels and backgrounds of learners.

Therefore the document is intended to be an objective presentation of content and is intentionally non-prescriptive in terms of course structure and teaching methodology, while at the same time offering examples of both via the course syllabi provided in the Course Examples section.

Outline of Document

Each subject area is organized as follows:

  • Description of Core Subject Area
    A general overview of the subject area and its relevance to the student and practitioner of Classical architecture in the 21st century.

  • Learning Objectives
    A general outline of the content that instructors should aim to communicate and introduce to students within each subject area.

  • Learning Outcomes
    A detailed description of the concepts, subjects, skills and methods that are typically introduced in courses in the core subject area. They explicitly and directly address expectations for student learning by providing participants with a clear guide to what they may expect to achieve, be able to do or know upon completion of a course in the subject area. They may be used to assist with course planning, teaching, learning and assessment.

  • Resources
    A bibliography of resources collected from the experience and insights of ICAA instructors. The primary resources identify texts that have proven to be of value by multiple instructors in their presentations of core content. The list of additional resources includes texts that are frequently referenced within the course as well as those particular to individual teaching methods.

  • Course Examples
    Comprised of a selection of syllabi from courses that have been taught in each subject area since 1999. Included are examples from ICAA Continuing Education Courses, ICAA Intensives (of various lengths), AIBD courses, Chapter CE Courses, and Courses taught with partnering institutions and organizations. Collectively they present a range of course formats, lengths, and teaching methods.