Betsy Frederick-Rothwell is a doctoral candidate in the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research approaches the study of buildings and spaces with disciplinary tools from the history of technology and the history of medicine, looking at the intersections of building environmental systems and physiological theories in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Her dissertation, tentatively titled Internal Economies: Airs, Bodies, and Building Technologies, 1830-1930, investigates the conditioning of architectural space as a deliberately technocratic project. It places in historical, social, and political context newly proposed systems of building “sustainability,” namely those that associate concepts of well-being, health, and comfort with design and technology, bringing into focus not just the conditions of buildings but also the conditions and contingencies of work.
Betsy received her M.S. in Historic Preservation from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Duke University and her master of architecture from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002, Betsy worked as an archivist at the UC-Berkeley Environmental Design Archives and as a preservation specialist and project manager for the U.S. General Services Administration in San Francisco, CA. As an outcome of her work at the Environmental Design Archives, Betsy co-edited the 2009 book Design on the Edge: A Century of Teaching Architecture, 1903–2003, chronicling the history of the UC-Berkeley Department of Architecture. Betsy was a University of Texas Donald D. Harrington Master’s Fellow in 2011-2012 and received Continuing Fellowships from the UT-Austin Graduate School for 2014-2015 and 2016-2018. Her doctoral work has been supported by fellowships from PEO International and the Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. Betsy’s research interests include technology’s effects on design and inhabitation, the human-rights implications of building technology, and preservation’s role in environmental movement.