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Highlight Seminar: William Braham, University of Pennsylvania

Date: November 16, 2015

Time: 4:00 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.

Location: Maeder Hall

Professor William Braham, of the University of Pennsylvania, presents “Thermodynamic Principles for Environmental Building Design, in three parts” as part of the 2015-2016 Highlight Seminar Series.

Slide Presentation


This talk explores the architectural implications of systems ecology, which extends the principles of thermodynamics from the nineteenth-century focus on more efficient machinery to the contemporary concern with the resilient self-organization of ecosystems. Modern buildings are both wasteful machines that can be made more efficient and instruments of the massive, metropolitan system engendered by the power of high-quality fuels. A comprehensive method of environmental design must reconcile the techniques of efficient building design with the radical urban and economic reorganization that we face. Over the coming century, we will be challenged to return to the renewable resource base of the eighteenth-century city with the knowledge, technologies, and expectations of the twenty-first century metropolis.

Dr. William W. Braham FAIA is a Professor of Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as Chair from 2008-11, and is currently Director of the Master of Environmental Building Design and Director of the TC Chan Center for Building Simulation and Energy Studies. He received an engineering degree from Princeton University and an M. Arch and Ph.D. Arch. from the University of Pennsylvania. At Penn he teaches graduate courses on ecology, technology, and design. At the Chan Center, his most recent projects have been the Sustainability Plan, Carbon Footprint, and Carbon Reduction Action Plan for the University of Pennsylvania.

As a contribution to the DOE Energy-Efficient Building HUB, he organized a series of symposiums on Architecture and Energy ( The first on Performance and Style is now available as a book and the second and third will available soon as a book called Energy Accounts: Architectural Representations of Energy, Climate, and the Future (2016). In 2006 he published a book called Rethinking Technology: A Reader in Architectural Theory, and has just published Architecture and Systems Ecology: Thermodynamic Principles for Environmental Building Design, in three parts (2015).

All seminars are held on Mondays from 4:00 p.m. – 5:15 p.m. in the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment’s Maeder Hall. A reception will be provided in the lobby of Maeder Hall immediately following the seminar.