When the Buildings Take Over

My wife can't turn the lights in her office on or off. Or, perhaps, she can do so, but only by moving a lot or a little. If she sits still thinking for to long, the lights go off. If she wants them off and jumps up to answer the phone, they go on.

This was a trend in building design that really got rolling -- in what, the 50s? The 60s? The basis of the design philosophy was, "Screw what you, the user of the building, thinks! We know what you really need. You thought you'd like a bit of fresh air? Forget it! We are bringing you perfectly filtered air! [Except, of course, when their machines fail, leaving the person stuck in an office with foul air and no way to correct the problem.] Heating and cooling? We will keep your office the perfect temperature constantly! [Except in unanticipated weather, or a power outage, or if you have lower than normal heat or cold tolerance.] Lighting? We know what light you'll need! [Except if you are trying to get in a quick nap, or are partially blind, or light sensitive...]"

It was all part of the post-WWII tendency to central control. And it happened in corporations just as much as it did in government.


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