Air Conditioning

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If you’re too young to remember rotary telephones and manual typewriters, you may be surprised that, not long ago, office buildings had windows that opened, that on very hot days people got sent home from work or school, and that sometimes you went to the movies, not to see the show, but to come into the cool of that Frigidaire air conditioning.

AC was a luxury, not a necessity. But today, we’re migrating massively to man-made climate. In the last twenty-five years, air conditioning has become a way of life. Americans are retreating to hermetically-sealed comfort zones, where summer breezes are a distant memory and you never smell a rose.

We’re cool as cucumbers, but at what cost? We’re chilling out today and considering what’s cool and uncool about air conditioning.


Michelle Addington, associate professor of architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design;
Gail Brager, professor of architecture, Building Science program, University of California Berkeley, developed new standards for operable office windows for ASHRAE, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers;
William Stern, Houston architect, principal of firm of Stern and Bucek.