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Urban Space and Climate in the Progressive-Era American City

Jacob Boswell, Ohio State University, Mellon Fellow 2017–2018, Spring

My work centers on the entanglement of cultural, technological, and natural systems in the production of designed and vernacular landscapes. My most recent work focuses on the real, attempted, and imaginary alterations of natural systems for the production of new or desired climates. In showing how designers have sought to shape climate in the past, I hope to better position the discipline of landscape architecture within current debates over climate change and climate adaptation. At Dumbarton Oaks, I focused on illuminating historical instantiations of climatic design and placing such work in its contemporary scientific context. Dumbarton Oaks gave me the time, space, travel resources, and intellectual feedback to complete two essays, one on the role of climate in Daniel Burnham’s plan for Manila and one on the relationship between nineteenth-century conceptions of climate and the body and pop culture representations of climate change. I have also laid the foundation for two future essays, one on H. W. S. Cleveland’s synthetic ecologies of the plain states and one on Warren Manning’s A National Plan, and hosted a productive session on climatic landscapes at the Society of Architectural Historians annual conference.