The Prevalence of House Beautiful, Climatic Research, and Regional Architecture Technologies in Post-War America

Carolyn Muldowney

Authors:  Carolyn Muldowney

Faculty Mentor:  Vandana Baweja

College:  College of Design, Construction, and Planning


The transition to suburbia created a need for new house building techniques as a majority of American postwar builders opted to clear the land and leave houses vulnerable to harsh climates. For American architects, often influenced by their European partners, the experimental premise of European modernism was an ideal they wished to reimagine. House Beautiful’s Climate Control Project, created by editor Elizabeth Gordon and led by a team of eight researchers from a variety of disciplines, became the first prominent steps to explore and reinvent the theory, technology, and material relationships in a home. This study will explore how the Climate Control Project addressed climatic research, design, and comfort through studying the plans, sites, and materials of successful postwar American homes in House Beautiful editorials. Comfort begins at the foundations of a home; many Climate Control Project innovations focused on incorporating climatic research and regional architecture technologies into simple design techniques that could be adjusted to individual sites. Planimetric arrangements with new spatial relationships between rooms that used new materials such as steel, concrete, and glass. House Beautiful was able to showcase homes from different regions across the country and had a lasting impact on the design of post-war America.

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5 Responses
  1. Hello! I was very intrigued by your research, I have no background of architecture or design however, you mentioned a type of catalog in a magazine that were given to people to choose from since comfort is a big factor into designing homes. Were more of these types of designs that include climate control made? If so, are some of these techniques or components included in traditional home-making?

    1. Carolyn Muldowney

      Hi Carolina! Yes, more of these types of climatic and comfortable designs were shown throughout the magazine and in homes being built at the time. There were several articles in each months issue that showed examples from real homes that had already been built and ideal homes that House Beautiful itself created for the magazine. Unfortunately many of these techniques were lost in current home-making practice as we grew accustomed to modern technologies, like A/C, for comfort.

  2. Larissa Krinos

    Hi Carolyn, your poster and all your research looks amazing! I feel like I’ve read a lot about the transition to suburbia, but I’d never heard about the Climate Control Project before! Do you think that the influences of this project can be seen in current green rating systems like LEED or the LBC?

    1. Carolyn Muldowney

      Hi Larissa! A lot of the climatic solutions proposed by the Climate Control Project for optimal home design are very similar to green rating systems like LEED and the LBC. While there is no direct link to this project specifically influencing these rating systems, several of the determinants of sustainable design are the same. For example, thermal comfort, air quality, site protection, and overall energy efficiency were very big drivers of quality design presented by the Climate Control Project and these are all rating components of the LEED system.

  3. Christine Chan

    Hello Carolyn, thanks for sharing your poster! How do you see these techniques influence current building designs and how it would contribute to the LEED requirements?