This book maps and conceptually explores material practices of the past, showing how physical artifacts and visual environments manifest culturally rooted modes of thought and participate in the most nuanced processes of negotiations and ideological exchanges. According to the text, material structures enable people to think in new ways—distill emerging or alter existing worldviews—before words can stabilize them as conventional narratives. Combining design thinking with academic methods of inquiry, the book traces ancient to modern architectural histories and—through critical readings of select buildings—examines the role of nonverbal exchanges in the development of an accumulated Western identity. Operating from the assertion that buildings are the most permanent record of unself-conscious beliefs and attitudes, it discusses Byzantium and the West after iconoclasm, the conquest and colonization of Mesoamerica, the Reformation and Counter-Reformation in Eastern Europe, the rise of the culture of consumerism in Victorian England, and High Modernism as its consequence. By moving beyond the assumption that historical structures reflect transcendental values and deterministic laws of physics or economy or have been shaped by self-conscious individuals, the book challenges the traditional knowledge of what architecture is and can be.