New York’s built environment and the city’s status as a forum for global architectural discourse were celebrated during October’s month-long festival of design-related events
New York is a unique context. It has a culture that is wholly its own, but is also an intensely global city that serves as an international hub. For architecture, it is no different – and the annual Archtober programming series encapsulates New York’s range of urban discourse around both local and world issues. Its mission is to “raise awareness of the important role of design in our city”.
The month-long festival of activities, programmes and exhibitions is spearheaded by the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIANY). While most of the programming is located in Manhattan, the events are spread across the city’s five boroughs at a number of participating locations, ranging from Freshkills Park in Staten Island to the Grand Concourse of Bronx County, and everywhere in between.
Donald Judd’s home
The most “local” portion of Archtober is a robust series of tours meant to highlight the richness and architectural fervor of the New York urban environment. These expert-led tours open up spaces that are otherwise difficult to access and experience with any degree of depth. For example, a bike tour of Brooklyn Navy Yard’s disused shipbuilding factories demonstrates the adaptive reuse of these buildings, including the LEED Platinum-certified Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92, which is now home to innovators in the design and tech industries.
Freshkills Park in Staten Island
Historical tours also uncover the often-hidden past of places such as the South Street Seaport and its still-intact colonial history. The AIA co-ordinated with the Classic Harbour Line for 5 Boroughs 1 Waterfront, a series of yacht tours that combined architecture tours with boat excursions around the city, including Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn’s coast and the islands of Long Island Sound. The Building of the Day features a carefully chosen daily fix of tours and online content, featuring new and old structures around the city, ranging from Donald Judd’s home and studio to WORKac‘s design for advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy’s new Manhattan office.
WORKac’s design for Wieden+Kennedy’s new office
The global aspects of New York’s architecture discourse could be found in the programming, including a special appearance by Jaime Lerner, the former mayor of Curitiba in Brazil, who discussed his city’s lead-by-example sustainability. At the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, a retrospective showed the work of Japanese landscape architect and Zen Buddhist head priest Shunmyo Masuno, whose traditional and contemporary works are some of the most peaceful in the world.
In conjunction with Archtober is the always entertaining Architecture and Design Film Festival which this year included a 3D Robert Redford film about The Salk Institute, a documentary about Polish neon, and an off-the wall profile of Bruce Goff protégé Eugene Tsui. These global selections are shown in a charged, premiere-like setting, bringing architecture and design into the New York nightlife.
Like the statement says, Archtober strives and succeeds to showcase New York’s architecture gravitas, which includes its built environment as well as its global intellectual atmosphere. The overall programme could possibly include a bit more of the second, simply by incorporating a few more already-occurring events into its fold. Overall, it is a broad and informative look at the most famous urban environment in the world.
Archtober took place in various locations around New York throughout October