The Elements of Construction

N. Clifford Ricker, Architecture, and the University of Illinois
Author: Edited by Marci S. Uihlein
One man’s method of teaching at the dawn of the skyscraper era
Cloth – $50
eBook – $19.95
Publication Date
Cloth: 01/21/2025
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About the Book

A pioneer of architecture education in the United States, N. Clifford Ricker notably taught with an emphasis on construction and shop practice in his teaching. Marci S. Uihlein edits and elaborates on The Elements of Construction, the text on building materials that Ricker wrote and used in his teaching, but never published. The book is a window into the expanding possibilities of the late nineteenth-century, as Ricker continually revised The Elements of Construction to keep up with advances taking place in architecture, materials, and construction technology.

In addition to providing the full text, Uihlein and the contributors trace Ricker’s career and delve into his practice of teaching. Subject experts explore specific topics. Thomas Leslie surveys contemporary construction practices in Chicago. Tom F. Peters considers Ricker’s writings in the context of the time while Rachel Will looks at masonry know-how and testing. Donald Friedman examines the teaching of iron and steel construction.

An illuminating look at a field and a legacy, The Elements of Construction rediscovers a figure that shaped the teaching of architecture and trained a generation that forever changed Chicago.

About the Author

N. Clifford Ricker (1843–1924) served as the longtime head of the School of Architecture and dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. His architectural achievements include the design of the iconic Altgeld Hall on the UIUC campus. Marci S. Uihlein is an associate professor of architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.



“The city of Chicago was built in no small part by architects trained in Nathan Ricker’s school of architecture at the University of Illinois. This welcome volume provides new insight into his rigorous teaching methods and philosophy, helping us better understand the creation of modern America.”--Kathryn E. Holliday, author of The Open-Ended City: David Dillon on Texas Architecture