AMES, Iowa — Fabiola López-Durán, an associate professor of art history at Rice University, will speak about eugenics and modern architecture in a lecture at Iowa State University.

She will present “Globalizing Normativity, Picturing Evolution: Le Corbusier and the Remaking of Man” at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8, in Kocimski Auditorium, room 101 College of Design. Part of the ISU Department of Architecture’s 2019-2020 Public Programs Series, “Moral Imaginaries,” her talk is free and open to the public.

López-Durán’s lecture, based on her recent book Eugenics in the Garden: Transatlantic Architecture and the Crafting of Modernity (University of Texas Press, 2018), will cover Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier’s impact on architecture — from his embrace of eugenics’ ideology to the theory that the built environment could be used to improve the human condition of those interacting with it.

In 1936, Le Corbusier constructed the image of a simple man, the Modulor, based on the golden ratio, human measurements, Fibonacci sequence and the double unit. The Modulor later transformed both eugenics and modern architecture; it became Le Corbusier’s unique way of navigating the differences between the British imperial, US customary and metric measuring systems.

“Examining his alignment with eugenics — from his formulation of universal type-needs, to his Modulor and its normative human body — this talk reveals how architecture was made complicit in a genetically-inspired program that mirrored eugenics’ attempts to ‘improve’ the human race,” said López-Durán.

López-Durán received her bachelor of architecture from the Universidad de Los Andes in Merida, Venezuela, and her PhD in the history, theory and criticism of architecture and art from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Her research and teaching focus on art and architectural history, including the theory of modern European and Latin American art, architecture and urbanism; non-Western modernisms; ecology and race; and the intersections of science, architecture and politics.

She is the recipient of numerous awards, including grants from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Dedalus Foundation, Council on Library and Information Resources, Harvard Center for European Studies, Samuel H. Kress Foundation, MIT-France and the Fulbright Program. Eugenics in the Garden received a Society of Architectural Historians/Mellon Author Award and the 2019 Robert Motherwell Book Prize. Her work has been published in Europe, Asia, South America and the United States.


Fabiola López- Durán, Rice University Department of Art History, fld@rice.edu
Vladimir Kulic, Architecture, 515-294-5676, vkulic@iastate.edu
Hailey Allen, Design Communications, hallen15@iastate.edu
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289, hsauer@iastate.edu