Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 4-1-2020

Document Type



Gies, Margaret. Building Stories: Narratives of Architecture. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 2020


Copyright Margaret Gies 2020.


Architects and designers have long sought to communicate their pursuits through various styles of building imagery. The design profession is heavily visually driven. The written word has a powerful ability to transform our interpretation of a space beyond what images and models can give. Narrative architecture is an aside of this professional condition that allows the exploration of thoughts, ideas, stories, and characters to manifest into a collection that helps formulate meaning. Narrative grants the architects the ability to see beyond the structure of the architecture to an introspective exploration of the history, context, program, function and passions of the building. While structure and facade are important to the physical construction of the building, the phenomenological realms and philosophical pondering take precedent in a narrative. How a space makes the viewer feel and how the viewer feels about his feelings create a lasting consciousness that emboldens and inspires. Narratives can be constructed from an already perceived work or they can be used as a way to record an idea outside of the mind. These building stories aim to address both the building product of a narrative and the narrative product of a completed design. A provocative narrative has the ability to stir thoughts about what the building is and what it could become. Utilizing a developed or underdeveloped architecture piece, a designer has the capability to think deeper about the project and the qualities, feelings, and thoughts that the architecture creates. A designer can then use what she has learned from the narrative to further develop the project. These building stories are ruminations on combinations of novel work, philosophical ruminations, journaling, and satires that produce architecture and are produced by architecture accordingly. The sketches and ink drawings were created as inspiration for the written work for the novel and philosophical rumination narrative pieces. Sketches and charcoal rubbings were created as a result of the written work for the satire and journaling narrative pieces.