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Architecture Spotlight10

Old House, Energy Hog?

Monday April 14, 2014

Why do the front doors in many older homes open into a vestibule hallway with stairs? Preserve energy-efficient original designs, like this entrance foyer Could be to save energy.

We took a look at the U.S. National Park Service's Preservation Brief 3, Improving Energy Efficiency in Historic Buildings, and summarized the results in our article, Make Your Home More Energy Efficient. The authors of this Brief give us a lot of pointers and suggest many actions that may improve energy consumption. They also tell us to look at the architecture of old buildings and try to determine the reasoning behind the designs.

Breezy porches in the south and thick adobe walls in the southwest helped deflect the heat. It could be that entryways like the one shown here compartmentalized cold air in the winter and transferred cooling breezes to upper floors in the summer. Everyone who has an older house knows that they rarely come with instructions, so improving energy efficiency requires analysis, thought, and patience.

So, I really want to hear from you. This past winter was terrible. How did you save energy at your house? What do you plan to do to prepare for the summer heat and next winter's unpredictabilities? Let us know.

Photo of traditional, energy-efficient foyer by Lived In Images / Collection: The Image Bank / Getty Images

Mr. Jefferson, the Architect

Sunday April 13, 2014
Wa-hoo-wa, Mr. Jefferson! The Founding Father may not have scored a touchdown, but his architecture gives the Wahoos plenty to cheer about. Columns and dome, Rotunda, Lawn, University of Virginia, designed by Thomas Jefferson.

Taking inspiration from the Pantheon in Rome, Thomas Jefferson designed the pride of UVA, the Rotunda (shown here). His own home, Monticello, follows the same circular plan, and became a model for the twentieth century architects who designed the circular, domed Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC.

Mr. Jefferson was born on this day, April 13, in 1743. What other architects were born in April?

The Many Lives of Thomas Jefferson:

Photo of the Rotunda at the University of Virginia ©2008 Patrick Morrissey/Flickr.

Don't Miss Architecture Week

Thursday April 10, 2014
Want to win a $100 gift card just by loving architecture? Victorian house in Louisville, Kentucky Now's the time to give your best shot to the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

During National Architecture Week, April 6-12, snap a photo of "your favorite or most inspirational local architectural site." Then upload one or more of your masterpieces to Instagram or Twitter (tag it #archweek14) and you'll be entered in the AIA's Architecture Is Awesome Contest. Three winners will be announced April 16.

"From churches, hospitals, and libraries to homes, stores, and mixed-use areas, from windows and doors to stairs, we want to see what inspires you," says the AIA. See It. Snap It. Share it. But you'll have to hurry—the contest ends Saturday, April 12.

Architecture Week in the USA made its debut on Facebook in 2009, and now they're all a-Twitter. While you're on these Social Media sites, look me up!

Photograph of Victorian house © by Cecilia Xi Zhang, local louisville on flickr.com, a group of students exploring local architectural culture in Louisville, Kentucky, Spring 2010, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

April Birthdays

Wednesday April 9, 2014
Who are the famous architects born in April? Detail of Abele's Duke University Chapel Tower, looking up The prominent Philadelphian Julian Abele is one.

"The shadows are all mine," Julian Francis Abele proclaimed when discussing his architectural drawings for the new Duke University campus. Construction began on the Duke Chapel in 1930 —a time when educated African Americans rarely received the recognition for their accomplishments. Working in the Philadelphia firm run by Horace Trumbauer, Abele stayed in the background.

Abele was born on April 30 in 1881. In 1902 he was the first African-American to receive a B.A. in Arch. from the University of Pennsylvania. Today, Duke University is proud to celebrate Abele as the chief designer for many of their campus buildings.

What other important architects celebrate April birthdays? Find out! Architects Born in April

Photo of Duke Chapel ©Don Klumpp / Collection: The Image Bank / Getty Images

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