Betsy Frederick-Rothwell

Ph.D. Student School of Architecture University of Texas, Austin

2016 to 2017
Research Fellow

Inside Out: Office Buildings and the Hybrid Nature of Space, 1870-1930

Before the widespread adoption of air conditioning in the 1950s, architects designed office buildings that could stay cool without technology, and building inhabitants changed their daily practices with the seasons. Today, much of this knowledge has been lost. This dissertation aims to recover elements of that knowledge by studying the environments, environmental management systems, and inhabitants of large office buildings in New York City, and Atlanta, Georgia, in the period 1870 to 1930. However, this research intends to explore not only the material reality of these spaces, but also their function and perceived meanings. In this, it acknowledges that technologies and buildings had consequences in the realm of ideas as well as in the material world. Its fundamental question is: How did buildings, technologies, and representations (of people, technologies, and spaces) help to construct or reinforce ideas about the roles of nature, gender, race, and health in urban working life?