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What’s the weather?

 

Having a office in a windowless location often leaves me disconnected from the weather.  All sorts of weather happens without my knowledge and I’m often surprised by it when I leave work at the end of the day.  Wanting to know the weather is a desire shared by all who work in windowless environments. 

 

Hershey Chocolate Corporation Windowless Office Building, 1957

Hershey Chocolate Corporation Windowless Office Building, 1957

 

 

In 1934 Hershey Chocolate Corporation announced plans to build a new office building.  While original designs for the building included lots of windows to provide natural light, soon after ground was broken Milton Hershey was inspired by an innovative design and asked his builder/architect D. Paul Witmer to change the plans and build a windowless office building.  Amazingly, Mr. Witmer was able to draft a new set of plans before the foundation was completed and construction proceeded without interruption. 

 

 

Hershey's new windowless office building featured large, open offices lit with indirect lighting.

Hershey's new windowless office building featured large, open offices lit with indirect lighting.

 

 

The building incorporated several innovations designed to enhance worker comfort.  Some of those enhancements included central air-conditioning and even, indirect lighting to minimize shadows.  In every office a weather indicator was installed so that workers could know at all times the status of the weather.

 

 

A weather indicator was installed underneath each clock in Hershey Chocolate Corporation's windowless office building.

A weather indicator was installed underneath each clock in Hershey Chocolate Corporation's windowless office building.

 

 

The weather indicator featured three colored glass bullseyes lit by miniature electric bulbs.  Different types of weather were represented by different combinations of the three colored lights being lit.

 

 

 

 

Weather conditions were communicated by lighting different combinations of the colored lights.

Weather conditions were communicated by lighting different combinations of the colored lights. (Memo from Accession 87006, B12 F27.2)

 

 

 

 The basic combinations to communicate weather were:

 

White                       Clear weather

Red                           Rain

White and Red     Cloudy

Green                       Snow

Green and White  Electrical Storm underway

 

Today, employees working in the Windowless Office Building still rely on the weather indicator panels.  The need to know the weather is still an important part of daily life.

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