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


Moral Imaginaries

Architects like to imagine themselves as virtuous. They should make things better, improve the world, solve problems. Their professional calling commits them to a moral disposition. Architecture therefore imagines it can and should intervene in all manner of crisis, conflict and catastrophes as a force for good. Its knowledge, creativity, expertise and, above all, its genuine concern are addressed to the production and realization of solutions.
While outwardly orientated toward the provision of social and environmental solutions, architecture has at the same time itself become the subject of critique and criticism casting doubt on its moral standing. Its employment practices have been lobbied against, its work for oppressive regimes challenged, its genderinequalities called out, and the colonialism of its discourse overturned.
This year’s public program intends to provide a platform to address, discuss and reflect upon the moral imaginary of architecture, and its critique, from a number of perspectives.How, it could be asked, might other ways of conceiving of architecture —politically, socially, historically, ecologically —effect our ideas about its purpose? If architecture is seen as labor, rather than as a calling, then what are the implications of this change in perspective? Where, and at what point, does morality do more harm than good? Is architecture’s commitment to resilience merely an attempt to sustain the unsustainable, for example? Does the discipline’s faith in creative solutions, even in the such cases as border walls, amount to complicity in making the unbearable bearable? How is our conception of architecture limited by its moral imaginary, and how might we imagine architecture otherwise?

Fall 2019 Lectures

Bart Akkerhuis: In Five Short Years: What they Couldn’t Teach you in Architecture School

     September 6th

COMMONStudio: Ecologies of Elsewhere

     September 18th

Katrin Klingenberg: The Affordable Path to Net Zero

     October 14th

Jessica Garcia Fritz: Specifications and the Written Labor of the Gustavino Company

     October 23rd

Lisa Rammig: Advancing Transparency

     October 30th

Fabiola López-Durán: Globalizing Normativity, Picturing Evolutiono: Le Corbusier and the Remaking of Man

     November 8th

Tommaso Bitossi: Sufficiency Before Efficiency

     November 11th

Spring 2020 Lectures

David Gersten: Arts, Letters & Numbers: Living Still Life

     Janurary 1st

Lori Brown: What Responsibilty do Architects Have to Create a More Just World?

     February 5th

Billy Fleming

     February 26th


Substance Design Forum

     April 3rd

Learning from Socialism: Alternative Modernities in the Second World

     April 14th and 15th

The Public Programs lecture series are recorded and uploaded to YouTube. They can be found at this link: Public Program 2019-2020 YouTube Playlist

Tags: Architecture Public Programs