I found this terrific research piece by Margaret Maile Petty, a professor at the Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand, called “Perpetual Noon: Fluorescent Lighting and the Modern Office“. Apparently she wrote this piece during her time at Parsons in New York.
Here is copy of the PDF: scapes_8_Perpetual_Noon
The research covers the transition from Victorian-era offices, which were small, almost residential affairs, to the mid-century Modern glass office towers with their extreme organizational rigidity. Lighting went from primarily daylight-filled spaces supplemented with directional, personal-scale incandescent lamps, to enclosed open-plan offices completely detached from natural light and washed-out with seemingly endless, diffused fluorescent ceiling panels.
She showcases the human transition from individual worker autonomy to worker anonymity, one of the many cultural changes that occurred during this era, and how the lighting directly followed/influenced this transition.
I’m particularly interested in this article as it nicely backs up my “Less or Else is Becoming a Bore” post from 2009, discussing how architectural lighting needs to move beyond this mid-century drive for homeostasis in light and air.