Docent training at the National Building Musem

Quick life update – I’ve started training to be a docent at the National Building Museum. This means at the end of training I’ll actually be able to give tours of the building itself – the history, architecture, etc. A year ago I probably never would have gone out for this, but seeing as how buildings are now very relevant to my work, I thought I’d give it a go.

It is fascinating. Did you know, for instance, that the National Building Museum was one of the first consciously-designed “green” buildings in Washington? When it was built for the Pension Bureau, there were no air conditioners, and most of the government buildings in the area were pretty miserable in the summer, as you can imagine. But this was the primary purpose for the big open space in the middle of the building – ventilation. The air came through the windows and doors on the first floor, rose up to the top and exited through the windows and vents at the top, as a passive cooling system. The windows in the upper floors were also placed to allow maximum natural light to flow into the space, and as a result of these factors, absenteeism in the Pension Bureau dropped dramatically. Now of course for security they have to keep windows and doors closed and use air conditioning instead. Sigh.

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