Hot and Cold

An essay about HVAC hiding inside of an event program.

In 2014, Los Angeles’s beloved art-experiment presenting organization, Machine Project, asked me to design the program for their inhabitation of Pasadena’s Gamble House. The design is an extended riff on Rayner Banham’s Architecture of the well tempered environment (written when Banham was in residence at the Gamble house).

In-between descriptions of the several dozens of artworks and performances commissioned by Machine, I threaded a guide to the HVAC system of the Gamble house, contrasting its purported functionality (lauded by Banham and many others as having brilliantly designed passive cooling and ventilation) with its lived experience (in the summer the house is filled with ad-hoc fans blowing around inefficiently pumped air conditioned air). Heating and cooling were on my mind that summer (one of LA’s hottest and driest on record) and I imagined that the program might be a way to use the house and the event to think about energy, design, and the technical functions of architecture.