Weitzman School of Design
The University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design prepares students to address complex sociocultural and environmental issues through thoughtful inquiry, creative expression, and innovation. As a diverse community of scholars and practitioners, we are committed to advancing the public good–both locally and globally–through art, design, planning, and preservation.
PublicationThe Persistence of the Open Flame: Work and Waste in the Healthy, Modern Home(1999-11-06) Braham, WilliamWe still maintain open flames in our homes despite the development of cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient devices that can provide the same heat or light, often with greater comfort and control. My attention was drawn to this condition by Wolfgang Schivelbush's thoughtful book on the industrialization of light in the nineteenth century, which recounted the rejection of gas and then electric lighting in the living rooms of bourgeois and upper-class houses in Europe. A similar condition exists in America and, for example, we still light candles when we sit down to particular kinds of meals, whether those are ritual meals like thanksgiving and the Passover Seder, or intimate occasions, or even expensive restaurants. PublicationEyes That Do Not See? The Practice of Sustainable Architecture(1995) Braham, WilliamUnder New York law, roof-top water towers are invisible. The terms of the code are not vague; the silhouette of a water tower and the shadow it casts are transparent to the zoning envelope and the sky-exposure plane. This is not, of course, truly mysterious; it results from the neglect of a small effect in the guarantee of sufficient light at street level. But water towers are invisible in quite another sense and this raises useful questions about architecture. PublicationDo Houses Evolve? Neo-biology at House_n(2002-01-01) Braham, WilliamDo houses evolve? The intuitive answer would have to be yes. The general assessment that houses are better apparently supports that conclusion, as does the fact that those improvements occurred incrementally over the last century or so with the steady introduction and refinement of indoor plumbing, central heating, refrigeration, air conditioning, electric lighting. Despite a certain resistance to the conditions of rapid change, best characterized in architecture by historic preservation, belief in evolutionary development is now so very widely accepted that the collective attention of designers has shifted to the process of adaptation itself, to anticipating and providing for the next technique, device, or development. PublicationAfter Typology: The Suffering of Diagrams(2000-01-11) Braham, WilliamArchitects produce diagrams, not buildings, but diagrams that are wholly immanent, wholly embedded and coextensive with the materials, configurations, and forms of buildings. Theories of representation and expression have tended to privilege the concept over the building, treating the artifact as a site of interpretation, a mere extension of the process of its production. But if such concepts could be adequately expressed or understood separately from their manifestations, then the buildings themselves would be unnecessary. Architectural concepts only exist fully in their realization, as discoveries through the non-linear process called design. That condition of immanence inspires the recurring attention to method and process in the architectural discourse and equally the frustration with the embedded quality of the theorizing that it reveals. PublicationDynamic Indices of Building Thermal Performance(1981) Braham, WilliamFrequency transform and finite difference techniques are applied to a simple network developed using the equivalent thermal parameter (ETP) methodology. Subsequently a set of normalized parameter groups derived from the systems equations and solutions are discussed as indices of building thermal performance. PublicationBiotechniques: Form Follows Flow?(2003-01-01) Braham, WilliamThis paper examines the eco-systems model that underlies the LEED Green Building Rating System, comparing it to a number of other contemporary manifestations of the same model. As attendants at Greenbuild know well, the rating system offers credit for a number of well-recognized strategies that improve resource efficiency and indoor quality. Those strategies are based on an ecological model of the building and its occupants, which views them as agents in a dynamically interconnected system of flows and exchanges. between humans, their technological activities, and the biosphere. Or, in Sim van der Ryn's apt motto of ecological design: "form follows flow." (van der Ryn 2003) PublicationCorrealism and Equipoise: Observations on the Sustainable(1999) Braham, WilliamModern environmentalism originates with the recognition of ecological connectivity and the negative effects of technological intervention. This paper examines critical concepts developed by the architect Frederick Kiesler and the critic-historian Siegfried Giedion for their relevance to that discourse. Kiesler’s principle of Correalism and Gieidon’s appeal for Equipoise offer both a prehistory to the current mandates about sustainability and cautions about its limitations. The sustainable is ultimately a social condition that cannot be applied therapeutically nor ever wholly institutionalized. PublicationThe Candle at the Table: Work, Waste, and Leisure in the Modern Home(1998-10-30) Braham, WilliamWe still light candles when we sit down to particular kinds of meals, whether those are ritual meals like thanksgiving, or intimate occasions, or even at expensive restaurants. The candle is an outmoded technological device. Its continued use offers a remnant of previous habits and a kind of resistance to the conditions of modern life. PublicationEmergence-cy! Notes on the Flow of Information in Architecture(2002-01-01) Braham, WilliamFor architecture, the critical tool of the information age has been neither the telephone, the computer, nor even the network, but the constantly expanding Sweet's Catalog and the whole messy system of distributing information about building materials, products, and processes. Sweet's originated in the 1890s as a service of F.W. Dodge Construction (who also began publishing the Architectural Record at the same time). PublicationActive Glass Walls: A Typological and Historical Account(2005-01-01) Braham, WilliamThis paper provides a summary analysis of the typological and historical development of active glass walls. From the beginning of the glass revolution, the fascination with large areas of transparency has been tempered by the negative environmental effects they can produce: excessive heat loss when it is cold, excessive heat gain when the sun shines, and even excessive daylighting.