Stay Cool!

Merit Award

Stay Cool! Air Conditioning America

Stay Cool! Air Conditioning America is the first major exhibition to explore air conditioning's effect on American culture. The exhibition was designed around a series of ductwork towers. Visitors entered through a gigantic 60-foot-long, galvanized steel duct, emerging into three successive rooms that survey how air conditioning has revolutionized American life. Installations explained how air conditioning works, with a display of the machinery's guts, including filters, grills and fans. Graphics used arrows found on meteorological air flow charts. Photo murals, artifacts, equipment and interactive displays demonstrated how air conditioning is a defining technology of the twentieth century, and how it inspired new forms of architecture, from suburban tract houses to glass skyscrapers and shopping malls.

Jury Comments: 

"The airconditioning story told in this exhibit extends to the details, taking what could be a very mundane subject and turning it into an immersive experience. The jury agreed that letting the exhibit audience flow like air from one space to the next through the large duct-like transition corridors is an excellent example of the thoughtfulness that went into the exhibit displays. Obvious care was given to choice of color, use of symbols, objects, textures, and the 3D mapping technique to give a maximum impact in a small space."

Design Firm: 



National Building Museum

Location City: 

Washington, DC

Project Area: 


Open Date: 


Project Budget: 


Photo Credits: 


Design Team: 

Michael Bierut, James Biber (Principals in Charge); Kartika Lie, Kathleen Meaney, Jacqueline Thaw, Michael Zweck-Bronner




BStromberg Sheetmetal Works, General Typographers, John Poliszuk, Hank Griffith

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