Ergonomics in the Postwar Home: Collaborations between Cornell's College of Home Economics and the Center for Housing and Enivronmental Studies
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In architecture and design, the postwar period in America saw the rise of a new phenomenon: ergonomics research. The primary aim of ergonomics was to improve human environments by studying a wide range of factors that influenced use. These broad-ranging and ambitious studies, which covered everything from anatomical to psychological factors, could only be realized by bringing together large multidisciplinary research teams, including engineers, architects, planners, medics, engineers, home economists, and psychologists. This was a radical moment in the design sciences and nowhere was this multidisciplinary and user-centered mode of working embraced with more enthusiasm than Cornell University. Two projects exemplify the ergonomic turn: The Cornell Kitchen (1947-1953) and The Bathroom (1958-1965), both directed by Glenn H. Beyer from the Center for Housing and Environmental Studies, and supported by the expertise of Cornell’s Agricultural Experiment Station and the College of Home Economics. A lecture by Barbara Penner, the 2014 Dean's Fellowship recipient in the History of Home Economics and Human Nutrition in the College of Human Ecology focuses on the applied techniques that were deployed to investigate space, human use and behavior in The Bathroom and The Cornell Kitchen, and the broader ergonomic turn in postwar design culture – a culture which in its attentiveness to non-standard users (women, children, and the elderly) remains relevant today.
College of Human Ecology; College of Home Economics; College of Human Ecology Dean's Fellowship; Ergonomics; Center for Housing and Environmental Studies; Glenn Beyer; Cornell Kitchen