Daniel A. Barber is an architectural historian analyzing affinities between the history of architecture and the emergence of environmentalism in the 20th century. Daniel received a BA in Comparative History of Ideas from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in Architecture (History and Theory) from Columbia University. He also holds a Master of Environmental Design from the Yale School of Architecture, and an MFA in Studio Art from Mills College.
Daniel’s broad research agenda is aimed at producing new perspectives on the historical contours of the architectural discourse in order to contribute to an epistemological transition that also informs the dramatic changes currently underway in scientific- and policy-oriented fields as they seek to address environmental threats and anxieties. His dissertation, "The Modern Solar House: Architecture, Energy, and Environmentalism in the Immediate Postwar" aligns design proposals for solar heated houses with the formal tropes of post-war modern architecture, and also places them in the context of innovations in economic, technological, and bureaucratic research practices of the period. The seemingly marginal discourse on solar house heating is thus seen to prefigure later attempts to engage environmental problems in their multifaceted cultural, scientific, and governmental dimensions.
As a Ziff Environmental Fellow, Daniel worked with Charles Waldheim at the Graduate School of Design to pursue a research project that complements his dissertation. Tentatively titled “The Invention of Thermal Comfort: Climate Science and the Globalization of Modern Architecture, 1933-1963,” the project explores the multifaceted proliferation of climatic architectural strategies at mid-century, and in particular research on ‘thermal comfort’—the internal climatic conditions of the built environment—as it was developed as part of an interest in the formal aspects of passive ventilation and heating strategies, and then as it was subsumed into the global proliferation of mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems by the end of the decade. The project reveals empirical and conceptual relationships between architectural research, climate science, and the global emergence of political, economic, and cultural concern for environmental conditions.