Architect, Researcher, Consultant, Author, Editor

Senior Editor,
Progressive Architecture

Kenneth (Ken) Labs grew up on a family farm in Mechanicsville, PA. Mechanicsville is located in the center of Bucks County and is about five miles west of the Delaware River. He attended Lehigh University for two years and transferred to the architecture school at Washington University (St. Louis, MO). Shortly after the "first energy crisis," Ken's 1975 master's thesis, entitled The Architectural Use of Underground Space: Issues and Applications, inspired a new interest in building homes, offices and industrial buildings below grade.

Ken also authored and co-authored several books on underground architecture, earth-sheltered housing and solar heating. He ran his own consulting company, Undercurrent, and worked at architectural firms in Dallas, TX and New Haven, CT. Ken became senior editor at Progressive Architecture magazine in 1989.

Ken self-published his landmark master's thesis and circulated it around the world, including Australia, Europe, Canada, India and Mexico. He made no profit from publishing his thesis; he merely recouped the costs of printing, binding and shipping. His love of underground and energy-efficient architecture and environmentally-friendly site design was evangelistic in nature. In this same spirit, I have taken his manual, typewritten manuscript and reset the type so it is readable and have made it available for those who would like to read it. Since I was working from a copy, I enhanced the graphics and reset most of the tables so they would be legible. I know that if Ken were alive today, he would want to make this work available to inspire those who are interested in underground spaces.

The book is available here in PDF format. See below. The low-res version, which maintains the fonts, will be suitable for viewing and printing for most purposes; the high-res version was saved at 2400 dpi/133 line screen and can be printed on high-resolution printers.

I have also put together a bibliography, which I think lists most of the publications in which he participated. If anyone knows of any more, please contact me. A very touching eulogy from the November, 1992 issue of Progressive Architecture appears here and as an introduction to his thesis.

If you knew Ken or enjoy reading this document, or have any comments you'd like to pass on, just email them to me. If I get enough, I will start a listing of them.

Thanks very much!
Wayne Labs

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Issues and Applications
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