By Susie Kim
On Monday 28 January, the School of Architecture kicked off the 2019 Spring Lecture Series by welcoming Kipp Bradford for his lecture entitled The Hot Earth Catalog: Solutions for a Warming Planet. Bradford describes himself as a “high-tech innovator” with a bioengineering background. He has experience working for Hasbro, Mattel, Q-Labs, and MIT Media Lab, and currently manages a multitude of projects, including his own companies kippkitts and Treau.
Bradford began the lecture by recalling his time as a toy designer, stating that while he enjoyed the work, he began to realize that he was designing mass-produced, short-interest products for the mass market that would produce high waste, which would in turn contribute to global climate change. With this concern in mind, he shifted his career and began working at MIT under the title Professor of Other. It was here that he realized his true interests in efficient air conditioning and cooling systems.
Taking advantage of his background in bioengineering, Bradford began to explore projects designed to solve what he describes as “two grand challenges:” smarter heating and cooling, and new ways to pump heat. He believes that these two problems will drastically reduce the rate of global warming worldwide, while also optimizing the type of architecture that is built. Bradford correlates the temperature of a space to the emotional response that a person has with the space. “If [the designer] can’t nail thermal comfort,” he argues, “they aren’t able to create a building that evokes positive responses.”
Bradford believes that the sole purpose of the engineering and architecture professions should be to impact humanity in positive ways. “If you’re building a building just to build a building, it’s just physics,” he says. Bradford places responsibility on architects and engineers to create a better future for society as a whole. He challenges us, as future architect hopefuls, with examining the ways in which our work can have a positive impact beyond the building. This can include more than just the environmental impacts of the building. What are the bounds of what architecture can and cannot do, and how much of is that is in our hands?
Susie Kim is a first-year Bachelor of Architecture student in the Carnegie Mellon University School of Architecture.