Graduate Architecture

Daniel A. Barber

Daniel A. Barber

Associate Professor
Chair of the Graduate Group in Architecture

Meyerson 204

Office Hours: by appointment, email

A recent article Emergency Exit is available on the e-flux architecture online platform

To access the e-flux architecture series on Accumulation, go here

For other articles and other publications, scroll down. 

Professor Barber is on Research Leave for Fall 2019 for questions about the PhD program, please contact For other issues or queries, please be patient.

Daniel A. Barber is an Associate Professor of Architecture and Chair of the Graduate Group in Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design. He is a historian studying the relationship between architecture and the emergence of global environmental culture across the 20th century. 

Daniel received a PhD in Architecture History and Theory from Columbia University, and a Master of Environmental Design from Yale University. He currently holds a Fellowship for Advanced Researchers from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which he is spending in intermittent residence at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin and the Rachel Carson Center in Munich, Germany. In March 2017 he was a Visiting Fellow at the Sydney Environmental Institute, University of Sydney, Australia; in 2015-2016 he was the Thomas A. and Currie C. Barron Visiting Professor in the Environment and Humanities at the Princeton Environmental Institute, hosted by the Princeton School of Architecture. He held a post-doctoral research fellowship at the Harvard University Center for the Environment and Graduate School of Design, and was a visiting professor at Oberlin College, Barnard College, and the University of Auckland, New Zealand. In February 2015 he was the Terra Foundation for American Art Visiting Professor at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. 

Daniel approaches research and teaching from an interdisciplinary perspective, integrating narratives and methods from the histories of architecture, art, landscape architecture, technology, science, politics, and economics to frame and interrogate social relationships to the environment. He has been involved in a number of collaborative and interdisciplinary initiatives: he was part of the Mellon funded research project on "Architecture and/for the Environment" at the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, and is part of the Architecture and Environment Interest Group of the European Architectural History Network. He also led a research group on architecture and climate for the Mellon Foundation funded Global Architectural History Teaching Collaborative. Daniel serves on the Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. He is a fellow at the Penn Institute for Urban Research, a participant in UPenn/Mellon Humanities + Urbanism + Design seminar on the Inclusive City, and is part of the Faculty Working Group for the Penn Program in the Environmental Humanities (PPEH). 

Daniel's first book, A House in the Sun: Modern Architecture and Solar Energy in the Cold War, was published by Oxford University Press in October 2016. It documents solar house heating experiments in architectural, engineering, political, economic, and corporate contexts from the beginning of World War II until the late 1950s, mostly in the United States. These experiments developed in parallel to transformations in modern architecture, relying on new materials and design ideas for both energy efficiency and claims to cultural relevance – architects were some of the most strident amidst the many cultural and scientific actors involved in seeing the solar house as an important designed element of the American future. Many also experimented with solar technologies as a means to raise the standard of living in developing economies. A House in the Sun argues that inserting this mid-century solar discourse in to the history of modern architecture allows for a reframing of the field relative to energy and ways of life.

A second book, Modern Architecture and Climate: Design before Air-Conditioning will be published by Princeton University Press in 2020. The book explores the role of climate-focused architectural design methods in the devleopment of modern architecutre. In the period before mechanical heating and cooling systems were widely available, architects collaborated with meteorologists, cyberneticists, physiologists, and others to become experts on climate patterns and their effects. Interest in climate methods was international and robust, and the book examines examples in France, Brazil, Nigeria, India, the United States, and Australia, exploring the work of well-known architects and many not yet prominent in the historical record - again, the project is to reconsider the history of architectural modernism as a process of climatic adaptability. The primary objects of analysis are the images that were produced, reading architectural diagrams alongside charts, graphs, and other scientific visualizations to understand the wide-ranging technological discourse of the period. Modern Architecture and Climate argues that a new kind of architectural environmental media was produced by architects, one that allowed for new conceptual frameworks around the figure of the environment in design, science, and the social sciences.

Daniel edits an ongoing series on Images of Accumulation for the e-flux Architecture platform - a third dossier of essays is scheduled to appear in February 2020. Alongside colleagues Eduardo Rega Calvo and Sophie Hochhäusl, Daniel organized the symposium "Structural Instabilites: Environment History and Risk in Architecture" at the Weitzman School in the Spring of 2018. Selected essays from the project were published on e-flux. Daniel co-edited, with Penn colleague Bill Braham and others, Energy Accounts: Architectural Representations of Energy, Climate, and the Future (Routledge, 2016); he has also recently been the guest editor at The Journal of Architecture for a special issue on Architectural History in the Anthropocene, published in December 2016.

Daniel's essays have appeared in a number of periodicals, including Log (forthcoming November 2019), Public CultureGrey RoomTechnology and CultureThe Journal of ArchitectureDesign Philosophy PapersthresholdsDelft Architectural Studies on Housing (DASH), Pidgin, and The ARPA Journal. Chapters have appeared in a number of edited volumes, including: Critical Architecture (Taylor and Francis, 2007), Architecture and Energy: Performance and Style (Routledge, 2013), A Second Modernism: MIT, Architecture, and the ‘Techno-Social' Moment (MIT Press, 2013), AGENDA: The Catalogue of the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (Zurich: Lars Muller, 2014), Asymmetric Labors: The Economy of Architecture in Theory and Practice (The Architecture Lobby, 2016), Fueling Culture: Energy, History, Politics (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities (2016), Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary (Lars Muller/ Columbia 2016), Architecture/Machine: Programs, Processes, and Performances (eth Verlag, 2016); and Weather, Climate, and the Geographical Imagination (Unveristy of Pittsburgh Press, forthcoming 2020). Many of these articles are available as PDFs below. 

Daniel has received research and publication grants from the American Society of Environmental Historians, the Society of Architectural Historians, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Universuty of Pennsylvania Research Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, and the US Department of Energy.

At Penn, Daniel is the Chair of the Graduate Group in Architecture - the PhD Program in both History/Theory and Technology. He works closely with student at all levels of their PhD and MS work. He also coordinates the third semester of the required history theory sequences, "Architecture and..." focused on the historical relevance of equity, environment, and economy. He runs research seminars for PhD and MArch students, inclusing a course on the History and Theory of Architecture and Climate as part of the curriculum for the Master of Environmental Building Design (MEBD). He also teaches in the undergraduate Architecture program, including a Freshman Seminar on Architecture in the Anthropocene, the development of which was funded by the UPenn program on Integrating Sustainability Across the Curriculum, and a Benjamin Franklin Honors Seminar on Architecture and the Environmental Humanities. In Spring 2015 and 2018 he co-taught Penn/Mellon Global Cities courses, bringing students to Rio de Janeiro and to Berlin.


Selected Publications

The Nature of the Image: Olgyay and Olgyay's Architectural-Climatic Diagrams in the 1950s in Public Culture Vol. 29, No. 1 (January 2017), 129-164.

Introduction to Architectural History in the Anthropocene in The Journal of Architecture Vol. 21, no. 8 (December 2016), 1165-1170. 

Introduction A House in the Sun: Modern Architecture and Solar Energy in the Cold War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016)

The Form and Climate Research Group; or, Scales of Architectural History in Climates: Architecture and the Planetary Imaginary (New York: Columbia Books on Architecture and the City, 2016): 303-318. 

The Casablanca Solar House in AGENDA: The Catalogue of the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (Zurich: Lars Muller, 2014): 150-161.

Tomorrow's House: Architecture and the Future of Energy in the 1940s in Technology and Culture, vol. 55, no. 1 (February 2014): 1-39. 

Experimental Dwellings: Modern Architecture and Environmental Research at the M.I.T. Solar Energy Fund, 1938-1963 in Arindam Dutta, editor, A Second Modernism: MIT, Architecture, and the ‘Techno-Social’ Moment (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013): 252-285.

The World Solar Energy Project, ca. 1954 in Grey Room 51 (Spring, 2013), 64-93.

Hubbert's Peak, Eneropa, and the Visualization of Renewable Energy published online at on May 20, 2013; also published as Visualizing Renewable Resources in William Braham and Dan Willis, editors, Architecture and Energy: Performance and Style (New York: Routledge, 2013): 256-279.

Environmentalism and Environmentality: Re-conceiving the History of 20th Century Architecture in Design Philosophy Papers, Issue 3 (online): “Design History Futures: Sustaining What?” (December, 2009): 57-69.

Militant Architecture: Destabilizing Architecture's Disciplinarity in Critical Architecture (London: Taylor & Francis, 2007): 57-66. 

  • A HOUSE IN THE SUN: Modern Architecture and Solar Energy in the Cold War, Oxford University Press, 2016.

Work and Research