Popular American Housing: A Reference Guide

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Ruth S. Brent, Benyamin Schwarz
Greenwood Press, 1995 - Architecture - 248 pages
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Since the Garden of Eden, humanity has been concerned with shelter. Yet housing means different things to different people. This work is a comprehensive, historical reference guide that reviews housing concepts and issues. It introduces the reader to the current body of literature and seminal work in housing from a multidisciplinary perspective. The nature of the topic is multifaceted, fragmented, and demanding of serious study from diverse disciplines--this study spans the broad domains of housing knowledge in architectural history and theory; environment and behavior; design process and methods; and building and environmental technology.

The book begins with a discussion of vernacular housing and American culture and makes the case that dwellings reflect the people of different regions, materials, techniques, and design traditions of an earlier time. The history of American housing is reviewed with biographies and bibliographies, setting the stage for the environmental and social science perspective of housing. Residential environments are then considered in the broad sense of home and housing. Neighborhood and community are examined with a special focus on people, behavior, and the physical setting. The arts and popular media chapter presents American popular housing as image and icon, focusing on the arts and popular media as channels of visual and symbolic information or communication. These channels include painting, prints, pattern books, photography, music, film, television and video, literature, how-to manuals, and newspapers and magazines.

Taking a macro-level perspective, direct and indirect programs of public administration and policy for housing are discussed. Then, the complex systems of financing, and the prevalance and mechanisms for matching buyers with sellers is considered in the chapter that considers housing finance, marketing, economics and management. The chapter on environmental design, construction process, and technology reviews the professional disciplines and their perspectives on housing, special populations and accessibility needs, descriptions of building trades, terms, materials, construction processes and past industrial housing experiments, as well as issues of energy management, computer technology, futuristic housing, air quality and household hazards. Using current technology to conduct research, the final chapter breaks from the conventional ways of locating hard-copy, copyrighted references to a seemingly endless potential of electronic communication systems such as data tapes; on-line databases; other electronic databases; electronic mail; listserves, chat, and on-line communities; libraries; on-line electronic texts; software; and news and journals including electronic journals.

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About the author (1995)

RUTH BRENT is Professor and Chair, Department of Environmental Design at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Her major research areas reflect her work in the global context of housing and design, environmental gerontology, and design education. Brent has authored the computer program and numerous journal articles. She actively works to improve environments for persons of physical, mental, and economic, and ethnic diversity.

BENYAMIN SCHWARZ is Assistant Professor of Environmental Design at the University of Missouri, Columbia. Trained as an architect, his research interest includes design fundamentals, housing concepts and issues, and international environmental design for aging populations. He is coauthor with Leon A. Pastalan of University-Linked Retirement Communities: Student Visions of Eldercare, as well as numerous professional articles.

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