Building Aesthetics: Air Conditioners

I’m not one for air conditioning. It’s too strong and too cold in stores, restaurants, movie theaters and office buildings. I feel like I’m missing out on the summer season and living in a fake climate. Windows and breezes; that’s what I like. And that is how many historic houses were built: to take advantage of cross breezes. Historic houses certainly were not designed with central air conditioning in mind, and window units prevent the function of windows.

There are few things that can ruin a historic house like a window unit air conditioner, don’t you think?

See the air conditioner on the third floor. An example from Shelburne, VT.

Of course, the arguments and reasoning for air conditioners are many. I have lived in the south – the North Carolina Sandhills – so I understand heat and humidity for months out of the year. Working in an office without air conditioning would have been miserable. Then again, the office wasn’t designed for air circulation and cross ventilation.  Now I find myself shocked at the number of air conditioners in Vermont. It’s really not that hot here, and our summer days are so few. I can’t understand why people wouldn’t want a summer breeze blowing through their houses. To each his own?

Should we start designing buildings to work with nature once again? Then we’d spend less money on electricity. Just a thought.

In the meantime, take note of the air conditioning units on buildings that you pass. Where you would put them instead? Or, would you choose a window or wall unit rather than altering the interior to fit central air? Has anyone come across this problem? What does an AC unit do to the architectural integrity of a building?

Does anyone else feel this way? Or would you rather just have air conditioning and take it as a necessary item in today’s world?

7 thoughts on “Building Aesthetics: Air Conditioners

  1. Erica says:

    I’m going to have to give my vote for air conditioners, especially here in the South. There are plenty of compatible ways to add A/C to a historic building and windows units are not one of them! It seems like window units are more popular up north though, perhaps because it is seen as a temporary measure that will be removed at the end of summer. Of course this could also lead to a discussion on how climate control can be damaging to historic buildings because they weren’t designed to be sealed off in that way.

  2. Elizabeth Crudup says:

    I, and a few other people I know, have lived in historic homes with no AC. I find that it stays extremely cool downstairs on hot days. I took a part time job in a office building with central air. I was shivering and sneezing for two weeks. I beleive the AC while it has its obvious benefits, has brought about the end of open windows, long evenings on the front porch sipping lemmonade and mingling with neighbors. We all just want run in and sit in the house close the doors and miss out on the world around us.

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