Urbanism, Suburbanism, and Climate

This seminar will explore an important episode in the history of the built landscape as a mechanism of climate management. In the period right after World War II, as part of an array of cultural and technological transformations to the modern design discourses, the relationship between design and climate came under investigation – not for the significance we ascribe it today, as a key to mitigating climate change, but as a way to articulate alternative visions of urban, suburban, and infrastructural development. In order to investigate these general trends, the seminar will trace the research of Victor and Aladar Olgyay. From their participation in the 1951 Building Research Advisory Board\’s conference on \”Weather and Buildings\”, to their construction of the \”thermoheliodon\” climate modeling apparatus at the Princeton Architectural Laboratory in 1957, to their methodological handbook \”Design with Climate\”, published in 1963, the Olgyays lead us through the practical and epistemological transformations the mid-century engagement with climate allowed. Through their work, we will focus on three emergent phenomena: First, the importance of climate as a catalyst to transversal investigations across architecture, urban, and landscape practices; Second, the role of science and technology in engaging these disciplines with issues of environmental management; and Third, the identification of research as an essential component of design practice. Readings will be interdisciplinary. Students will be expected to participate in class discussions, make seminar presentations, and develop a relevant semester-long research project.