Recently, prototyping enabled by CNC technology has found its way into design practice where concepts can be quickly and economically tested through multiple design iterations that closely approximate the realities of oneto- one construction. This has lead to the promise of renewed research in tectonics and constructional techniques where the traditional concepts of craft and the joint, that were once married to the hand, can be rediscovered through the agency of mass customization. If we apply the lineage of the trait?a representational and cognitive tool to marry complex form with the exigencies of construction?pedagogical approaches can be developed that extend the current interest in intricate surface, structural morphology and geometry towards a robust materiality rooted in componentry, the joint, and part-to-whole relationships. This paper will introduce several threads from the twentieth century that have informed these tendencies in contemporary design practice, emerging from the well spring of Viollet-le-Duc. The thesis is supported by undergraduate model-based research employing digital design and fabrication techniques.