February 11, 2013
Daniel Barber, University of Pennsylvania
Climatic Effects: Humanism, Environmentalism, and the Architecture of the Comfort Zone, c. 1957
Department of the History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania
Location: 337 Cohen Hall, University of Pennsylvania
Right after World War II there was a flurry of interest – amongst architects, physicists, sociologists, and others – in the relationship between architecture and climate. In the US, innovations in the methods, materials, and technologies of building design were seen to be significant to alleviating the challenges of both suburban expansion and global economic development, and were the subject of numerous government, industry, and university research projects. This paper will summarize this interest through the work of Victor and Aladar Olgyay, twin Hungarian émigré architects whose research at MIT and Princeton culminated in the publication of Solar Control and Shading Devices in 1957. I will argue that interest in climatic design methods led to a reconceptualization of the human subject that architecture was seen to serve, while simultaneously outlining the relationship between design practices and the ecological conditions of the planet.