From This Old House, Clearstory is a window that sheds light on the surprising stories behind our homes. Host Kevin O'Connor digs into the systems, structures and materials in our homes from unexpected angles. Will future skyscrapers be built out of wood? Why is the American Chestnut heralded as “the perfect tree”? Did the Romans have a better recipe for concrete than what we use today? How will we build on Mars? You’ll hear from industry leaders, historians, and builders. Clearstory – your home in a new light.
Home in a Kit
35:41Between 1908 and 1940, Sears, Roebuck, and Co. sold 70,000 homes through their catalogs. These were called Kit Homes, and they ranged from simple one-story cottages to elaborate two-story homes with columns and fireplaces. The house arrived in pieces in a boxcar. And they helped spark the first wave of suburbia. Host Kevin O'Connor speaks with Rosemary Thorton, author of The Houses That Sears Built, and Avi Friedman, author of Pre-Fab Living, about this then-groundbreaking concept. How did the kit home answer a booming need for affordable and modern housing? And why did their popularity disappear? And is there a place for a modern kit home today as we face yet another housing crisis? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Materials Around Us
34:38Our lives are shaped by materials. And there’s no better place to see that reflected than in our homes. Glass windows revolutionized the comfort and safety of our houses. Stainless steel modernized our kitchens and even made our food taste more delicious. Host Kevin O’Connor explores the materials that surround us with Mark Miodownik, Professor of Materials and Society, and author of “Stuff Matters.” What are the most influential materials in our homes and will we really be able to change a room’s color with the push of a button? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
35:24Sea levels are rising at an alarming rate worldwide. And yet, we keep moving to waterfront communities regardless of the threats. What does this mean for the buildings and residents of waterfront cities like New York City and Miami? How do we build our cities to be more resilient? Or is the best course of action to convince millions of people around the world to abandon their homes for higher ground? Host Kevin O'Connor speaks with Antony Wood, professor and executive director of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, Jim Murley, the Chief Resilience Officer for Miami-Dade County, and Jainey Bavishi, head of New York City’s Resilience Office about what’s being done now to mitigate this growing risk. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
38:09Skyscrapers tell the stories of cities around the world. These massive columns of steel and glass continue to be feats of advanced building technologies, innovation and design, especially as super-tall structures push the limits of just how high we can go. But is it possible to build skyscrapers out of … wood? Host Kevin O’Connor speaks to architect Michael Green and Lynn Osmond, president and CEO of the Chicago Architecture Center, about building tall with one of our original building materials. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
39:16As building technologies have improved and new building materials have found their way into construction sites, our homes have certainly become healthier than before... right? Host Kevin O'Connor speaks with professors Jonsara Ruth and Alison Mears, co-founders of the Healthy Materials Lab, a design research lab at Parsons School of Design, about the history of toxic building materials, what we use today that could be harmful to our health, and how we can create healthier built environments. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Perfect Tree?
39:15There was a time when the American Chestnut was a plentiful resource for the wood that built our homes. In the early 1900s it was found in house framing, windows, trim furniture, and more. At 100 feet tall and up to 10 feet wide, it towered over the eastern forests. But then it disappeared. And now there's a movement to bring it back. Host Kevin O’Connor gets the story from author Susan Freinkel, who shares the historic importance of the Redwood of the East. We learn about the cutting-edge technology that scientist Bill Powell is using to bring it back from extinction. We also talk to Rex Mann, who grew up in Appalachia with the American Chestnut and researcher Sara Fitzsimmons who is overseeing an orchard of new growth trees. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Life On Mars?
39:15Could humans travel to Mars within the decade? Some tech giants are planning on it. And the plan isn’t just to get there -- it’s to live there. What would our Martian homes look like? How would we construct them? And should we even go to the Red Planet? Host Kevin O’Connor speaks with journalist and author Stephen Petranek, astrophysicist Michelle Thaller, planetary geologist Jacob Bleacher and architect Xavier De Kestelier about the future of human life on Mars. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Our Perpetual House Guests
31:25When we think of pests, we may think of the obvious: ants, mice, spiders, cockroaches. But what about the life we can’t see? And what about the ones that are actually helping us out? Host Kevin O'Connor speaks with ecologist, author, and professor Rob Dunn about the visible -- and invisible -- creatures we live within our homes and how there’s no amount of cleaning that can keep some of them out. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The (Second) Rise of Concrete
37:01How did a massive, devastating fire lead to the rebirth of one of our oldest building materials: concrete? Host Kevin O'Connor speaks with author and journalist Vince Beiser and assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering Admir Masic about concrete in the ancient world, how it came into our modern world, and the mystery of why it wasn’t used for a thousand years. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The Post-Pandemic Home
37:22The pandemic has changed our lives and our world... but will it change our homes? Host Kevin O'Connor speaks with author and professor of architecture Sara Carr, journalist and bioethicist Elizabeth Yuko, and assistant professor of architecture Cyrus Penarroyo about how our history with pandemics has influenced the way we build our homes, and how Covid-19 could shape the future of our homes and communities. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices