Brian Goldstein’s teaching encompasses a wide range of topics including American social and political history, the history of urbanization and the built environment, architectural history, the history of race and class, public history and historic preservation, and urban theory.

His courses explore the history of architecture and urbanism, including a two-semester survey of the global built environment. Other recent courses include:

Race, Space, and Architecture

Race and Arch

The Architects’ Resistance, “Architecture and Racism” Protest, New York City, 1969

Race has fundamentally shaped the American built environment in the twentieth century. Likewise, space and architecture have profoundly shaped Americans’ understanding of race. This seminar considers race, space, and architecture as mutually constitutive and mutually reinforcing phenomena, examining their intersection in urban form and spatial practices and their effects on the individuals who inhabit American cities. Topics studied include the racialization of public and private housing; race’s role in the training and practice of designers; social struggles over public and private space; environmental disparities; geographies of incarceration; the popular language of neighborhood change; and the reconstruction and transformation of urban places.

Architecture, Crime, and Punishment


New Jersey State Prison, Trenton, New Jersey, ca. 1930s. Library of Congress.

Architects and planners have long sought to design a better and more equal world, but designers have also frequently been complicit in creating built environments focused on punishment, criminalization, and incarceration. This course takes this premise as a starting point to understand the role that the built environment has played in shaping ideas of crime and punishment, from Enlightenment-era systems of imprisonment to convict labor in the post-Civil War American South to the rise of mass incarceration. By seeking to better understand the significance of architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning in the rise of the modern carceral state, the course addresses broader questions concerning the power of designed space and the power of designers to create a more just world.

Revisiting Suburbia: History, Form, and Culture

Eichler Home

Eichler Home, Lucas Valley, California, ca. 1962

This seminar examines the people, spaces, and ideas that made up suburbia over the course of the twentieth century, with a focus on the United States but attention to a broader global context. With a historical view but an interdisciplinary approach, the course reconsiders suburban racial, ethnic, economic, and political diversity and reinvestigates the archetypal forms and spaces that constitute this landscape. The questions that the seminar asks include: What is a suburb? Who occupies suburban space? What physical spaces and places characterize the urban fringe? How do architects, planners, and historians understand and shape these spaces?

Albuquerque Modernism


Simms Building, Albuquerque, 1955. Photograph by Julius Schulman. ©J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10).

This digital history seminar focused on modern architecture, landscape architecture, and planning in Albuquerque in the post-World War II era. Albuquerque, fueled by the investment of the nuclear age and rapid population growth, claims a remarkable resource of modern architecture that often gets overlooked in its built environment. In this course, we studied this rich history, the men and women who designed it, and the story that it tells. Students wrote detailed, well-illustrated case studies as the basis for a public history website on modernism in Albuquerque. Our guide to the mid-century built environment in one important modern city serves as a resource for future students and scholars and teaches a broader audience about modernism’s regional manifestations.