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Iowa State University Department of Architecture
Public Program 2018-19 Series


In recent years, it has become common practice to embrace the nameless. From efforts to expand the architectural canon, to experimenting with unorthodox modes of practice, the focus of architecture has clearly begun to shift, multiply and reflect upon its focus. If ‘the’ history of architecture that continues to underwrite our practice and thought today built its legitimacy on a willing blindness toward peoples, cultures and practices outside its narrow gaze, the histories we write today increasingly attempt to build more just, inclusive and diverse archives upon which future generations may know a wholly new architecture.

Yet to invoke anonymity is not simply a call for representation—a call to name the nameless. Rather it is to deliberately reflect on the implications, contradictions and struggles of the multiple anonymous relations that dwell uneasily in architecture’s foundations: to think with what architecture does not name. What would it mean to consider architecture, as a profession, a discipline and discourse, from the point of view of its anonymous underbelly—to bear witness to all that remains unnamed in the wake of architectural production?

Eliding the romantic, nostalgic or orientalist tendencies that ‘anonymous’ architectures of the world might suggest, anonymity here seeks to explore the labor networks and disciplinary structures, infrastructures and systems which underpin and make possible the authorship that architecture necessarily narrates. It is an examination of the landscapes and natures that are unmade in order to make architecture. Perhaps even more urgently, we also look to anonymity today because contemporary modes of power and forms of governance work increasingly through networks and sites whose conditions of possibility rest on their anonymity: from big data architectures, programmed environments and algorithmic governance of the ‘quantified self’—projects intimately tied up with contemporary architectural practices—to histories of architecture informed by camps, prisons and other ‘anonymous’ works, the design of space and the modulation of bodies can be seen as a single act. Through the lens of anonymity, we can highlight the intimate and longstanding relation between architecture and subjectivity. By shifting our attention to the architectures of anonymity, architects are questioning how classical modes of subjectivity are eroding rapidly, troubling questions of citizenship, privacy and political agency while paradoxically exacerbating longstanding racialized and gendered asymmetries and the forms of violence they perpetuate. Indeed, to design the anonymous today may be to design power itself, but it may also offer one of the most effective ways in which architects can enact meaningful change.

This year’s Public Program at Iowa State University builds on the previous years’ debates, conversations and interventions, which have at their root the insistent question: what is architecture? Never a singular act, nor a distinct set of processes, the architecture of anonymity identifies a conglomerate of relations that far exceeds its material presentation, bringing into the present a host of histories whose futures it simultaneously mediates. Architecture under neoliberal conditions is more often than not only a small instance of the wider infrastructural, financial, political and environmental networks that constitute it. Reflecting on this condition, this year’s lectures, debates and events hopes to open a creative criticality around the architectures of anonymity.

Fall 2018 Lectures

  Date   Lecturer   Lecture Title   Video     Link   Press Release
  Aug. 24  ISU Public Programs Launch  None   None
  Sept. 4  Mohamad Hafez Unpacked: Refugee Baggage  None   Here 
  Sept. 7  Kevin Schron Charles E. “Chick” Herbert Lecture   Here   Here
  Sept. 19  Wendy Fok Urban Living in a Shared Economy  Here  Here
  Sept. 20  Christina Moss ISU Sponsored Lecture: Christina Moss of Studio Ma  None  Here
 Sept. 27  Katja Rinderspacher Design and Digital Materialization as an Integrative Approach None  Here
  Oct. 17  Jesse LeCavalier Landscapes of Fulfillment Here Here
  Oct. 19-20  Mike Nesbit RR3 Drawing Atmosphere Exhibition None Here
  Oct. 22  Enrica Oliva  Shive-Hattery Lecture Here  Here
 Nov. 12  Forrest Meggers  Forrest Meggers  None  Here
Nov. 16 Sean Griffiths Towards an Architecture of Happy Nihilism None Here

Spring 2019 Lectures

 TBD  Substance Forum Substance Forum Upcoming Upcoming
 Feb. 11  Lukasz Stanek Lukasz Stanek None  Here
 Feb. 20  Amie Shao  Amie Shao MASS Design Here  Here
 Mar. 6  Yoshi Tsukamoto, Atelier Bow-wow  Hansen Lecture Here Here
  April 3 Samia Henni Samia Henni Upcoming Here
  April 11  Jessica Garcia Fritz  Jessica Garcia Fritz Upcoming  Here


Sep 4-Oct 19

Unpacked: Refugee Baggage, Mohamad Hafez Sept. 4 – Oct. Christian Petersen Art Museum

Reception 4:30 – 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 4, with remarks by Adrienne Gennett at 5:15 p.m.

DATUM Silent Auction

8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, and Wednesday, Jan. 23, closing at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23.

OPN Masterclass

March 3-7th

All Wednesday lectures begin at 5:30pm, and all Friday lectures begin at 5:00pm, held in Kocimski Auditorium, unless otherwise noted. ISU Department of Architecture Lectures are made possible with the support of the Architecture Advisory Council, the Curt F. Dale, Charles E. “Chick” Herbert and Richard F. Hansen endowments, an ISU Women and Diversity Grant, and the Vernon Stone Fund. Additional interdepartmental support comes from Community and regional Planning, Arts and Visual Cultures, Industrial Design, Master of Urban Design and Master of Design of Sustainable Environments Programs. Annual Masterclasses are made possible by a generous donation from OPN Architects.

Tags: public programs