What We Are Reading Today: Empires of the Sky

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Updated 30 May 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Empires of the Sky

Author: Alexander Rose

Alexander Rose’s new book, Empires of the Sky,  is a well written work on the history of commercial aviation.
Rose chronicles the early 20th century rivalry between airships and airplanes for the future of commercial air travel in this exhaustive account.
“Though it seems obvious now that we would get on a jet to cross the Atlantic, that wasn’t the situation in the early periods of aviation. When Lindberg crossed the Atlantic in 1927, it was one man in an airplane that had been stripped down to the lowest weight possible. By comparison, Zepplins, a rigid frame airship, had been capable of carrying over 50 crew members since about 1912,” said a review in goodreads.com.
The book looks at the origins of the Zepplin — first envisioned by a German, Ferdinand von Zepplin.
The company was later helmed by Hugo Eckener. It also looks at technical innovation, political and social topics.
Historian Rose delivers a multi-dimensional story of bold entrepreneurial and engineer exploits, as well as the political machinations and the military value of dirigibles and aeroplanes.


What We Are Reading Today: Modern Architecture and Climate by Daniel A. Barber

Updated 08 July 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Modern Architecture and Climate by Daniel A. Barber

Modern Architecture and Climate explores how leading architects of the 20th century incorporated climate-mediating strategies into their designs, and shows how regional approaches to climate adaptability were essential to the development of modern architecture. Focusing on the period surrounding World War II—before fossil-fuel powered air-conditioning became widely available—Daniel Barber brings to light a vibrant and dynamic architectural discussion involving design, materials, and shading systems as means of interior climate control. 

He looks at projects by well-known architects such as Richard Neutra, Le Corbusier, Lúcio Costa, Mies van der Rohe, and Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, and the work of climate-focused architects such as MMM Roberto, Olgyay and Olgyay, and Cliff May. Drawing on the editorial projects of James Marston Fitch, Elizabeth Gordon, and others, he demonstrates how images and diagrams produced by architects helped conceptualize climate knowledge, alongside the work of meteorologists, physicists, engineers, and social scientists. Barber describes how this novel type of environmental media catalyzed new ways of thinking about climate and architectural design.

Extensively illustrated with archival material, Modern Architecture and Climate provides global perspectives on modern architecture and its evolving relationship with a changing climate, showcasing designs from Latin America, Europe, the United States, the Middle East, and Africa. This timely and important book reconciles the cultural dynamism of architecture with the material realities of ever-increasing carbon emissions from the mechanical cooling systems of buildings, and offers a historical foundation for today’s zero-carbon design.