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Automation House

Automation House, The New York Times, 1970
Automation House, The New York Times, 1970 Automation House, The New York Times, 1970
Automation House Press

Automation House, New York, American Foundation on Automation and Employment, 31 p. Advertising supplement inserted in The New York Times (Feb. 1, 1970). Courtesy of Theodore Kheel.

Editorial, page 2:

"Automation House: A Philosophy for Living in a World of Change"

Automation House is more than a place. It is a symbol and demonstration of man’s wish to shape his future in a world of bewildering change. Individuals everywhere, stimulated through the media of mass communications by sights and sounds not seen nor heard before, yearn for participation and prominence. Instead the new technology creates in man a feeling of isolation and alienation. While machine-age tools may give him more control over his environment than ever before, they sometimes leave him powerless to control his fate. Understandably he seeks strength and comfort in united action, and quickly discovers the power organization brings. But overlapping demands produce group conflicts and unresolved disputes threaten our society. These related events pose the great challenge of our time: whether technology will master the individual or whether it will bring out a new dimension of participation; whether the community will be destroyed through group conflict or whether it will find the means of resolving disputes. These are the concerns of Automation House, which seeks, through the creative use of the tools of technology to give individuals an expanded opportunity for human development... it seeks also to help reduce and contain group differences. (1)

From American Foundation on Automation and Employment:

[C]hange is inevitable. It cannot be stopped nor should it be, for automation holds the unique promise of a truly new world. Our immediate aim must be to solve the employment problems it creates. The American Foundation on Automation and Employment was formed by Labor and Management in 1962 in the belief that by working together they could further the use of automation in their own and the public interest. Since then the Foundation has helped substantially to reduce the fear and insecurity automation induces (2).

Excerpts from Interiors, November 1968:

“The Future”

Automation House: Confronting tomorrow’s problems behind yesterday’s façade.

Automation is a persistent word on our front pages, and the name of the client for Automation House is almost as familiar: Theodore W. Kheel, labor mediator, member of the law firm of Battle, Fowler, Stokes and Kheel. He is the client [of the architectural rebuilding] in his capacity as President of The American Foundation on Automation and Employment, a non-profit organization co-sponsored by labor and management and funded in 1962 in response to the alarming jump in unemployment, which occurred in 1961. (3)

[...] The sponsors learned early that neither money handouts nor “made work” coped satisfactorily with the deep social malaise precipitated by automation. They saw the need for the participation of many specialized groups in communication, education, science, and art - to teach, demonstrate, and exhibit - and to capture the imagination of the public, involve the public. [...] E.A.T. commissioned the electrified, cybernetic, multimedia works of art, which will be so dominant in the interior. These works done by artists in collaboration with engineers, and achieved not with brushes and chisels but computer-age tools, are in no sense museum fixtures. The point is to dispel the view of technology as alien to the human spirit — to demonstrate a break with the futile, panic-ridden, concept of automation as a monster to be rejected at all costs (4).

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Frances Dyson © 2006 FDL

(1) Automation House, 1970, New York, American Foundation on Automation and Employment, 31 p. Supplement inserted in The New York Times (Feb. 1, 1970)

(2) Ibid.

(3) O.G., “Automation House: Confronting Tomorrow’s problems behind yesterday’s façade” Interiors (Nov. 1968), p. [2].

(4) Ibid.