• Modern Architecture and Climate: Design before Air Conditioning
    Daniel A. Barber
    Princeton University Press, 2020
    Daniel A. Barber

Jean Labatut, et al., Princeton Architectural Laboratory (students using the daylighting dome in the mid-1950s), 1947, Princeton, NJ.

Modern Architecture and Climate: Design before Air Conditioning examines climate-focused architectural design methods from the 1930s to the 1960s. In this period, before mechanical heating and cooling systems were widely available, architects collaborated with meteorologists, cyberneticists, physiologists, and others to become experts on climate patterns. Interest in climate methods was international and robust, and the book examines examples in France, Brazil, Nigeria, India, the United States, and Australia, exploring the work of well-known architects and many not yet prominent in the historical record. The primary objects of analysis are the images that were produced, reading architectural diagrams alongside charts, graphs, and other scientific visualizations to understand the wide-ranging technological discourse of the period, and placing it in the context of the racial and economic inequity often embedded in concepts of "comfort". Modern Architecture and Climate argues that a new kind of architectural environmental media was disseminated, one that allowed for conceptual frameworks around the figure of the environment in design, science, and social science, and that reflected the aspirations of these disparate fields.

Daniel A. Barber is assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, and an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society. He has recently held fellowships at the Princeton Environmental Institute and Harvard University’s Center for the Environment. His research explores the relationship between architecture and the emergence of global environmental culture across the twentieth century, with an emphasis on the role of media and technology in these developments. His book A House in the Sun: Modern Architecture and Solar Energy in the Cold War will be published by Oxford University Press in 2016. Barber has published in Grey Room, Technology and Culture, and Public Culture (forthcoming), as well as the Avery Review, Praxis, Agenda, and the catalog for the US Pavilion at the 2014 Venice Biennale, among many other venues.