This weekend, the seventh annual Architecture + the City kicks off in San Francisco. Organized by the American Institute of Architecture San Francisco chapter and the Center for Architecture + Design, the monthlong festival is a celebration of the city design community and offers events for all, from home tours to film series to exhibitions and lectures. The event kicks off Friday, August 27 with an opening party at DZINE and ends with a final hurrah on September 30 with the San Francisco Planning + Urban Research Association (SPUR). We spoke with festival curator Erin Cullerton in the final hours before kick off.
For those who have never attended the festival, what’s it all about?
It’s the AIASF and the Center for Architecture + Design’s annual celebration of San Francisco architecture. It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate the local architecture and design communities via events that really highlight the importance of design in our daily lives.Who’s crazy idea was it to put an event together that lasted an entire month long?Mine actually. I had been living in London in 2001 and 2002 and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and UK Arts Council hosted a program called <a href="http://architectureweek.org.uk">Architecture Week</a> (which is now the London Festival of Architecture). It was just one week but they hosted over 100 events; you literally couldn't get to everything.</p>When I came back to the U.S. and started working for the AIA, I was inspired to do something similar that celebrated the local architecture community. A week, however, would be too short and if someone was away that week, they'd miss the whole event so we decided to do a month. We gave it a trial run in 2004, and it's continued to grow and grow since then.Who is Architect + the City designed for?There’s something for everybody: exhibitions, lectures, home tours, family programs, special events, a film series. You name it, it’s happening sometime throughout the month.So what's best for the design professional?
The lecture series are always a good opportunity for someone in the profession to dig in a little deeper. There's a program on September 14 called Caterpillar: Dynamic Solutions to Energy Efficient Residential Design that focuses on a residence called the Caterpillar, which is one of the first homes on the central coast to receive a LEED Platinum rating. The design team is getting together with the lead consultants to talk about how the home came to be and how the sustainable technologies were implemented.
There's also a conversation about Parkmerced that'll be lead by SOM design director Leo Chow about what's emerging in that neighborhood (Parkmerced: An Integrated Urban Ecology, September 16) and a discussion about transportation in the Bay Area and in Los Angeles to understand how both systems might benefit from looking at the other (Rethinking Transportation: A Strategy for Integrating the System with the Person, September 25).
And for the design enthusiast and general public, what are the best events for them?
The Home Tours first and foremost because it's an amazing opportunity to be a voyeur in some great homes in San Francisco. After that, our walking series. It happens every Tuesday at 3 pm and this year we're doing a tour of the Pavement to Parks program (Pavement to Parks: The Evolution of Public Space, September 14), an alleyway tour (Alleyways of San Francisco: A Pedestrian Experience, September 21), and a tour to get people to notice the way sound works, or doesn't work, in a space (San Francisco Soundscapes, September 28). There are also the Food Tours, including one along the Embarcadero with Cass Calder Smith (The Port Walk: An Eating Tour, September 16) and a food foraging tour that starts at the FARM and ends at 18 Reasons (Food Foraging Tour, September 19).What are you most looking forward to?
We got special permission to do a tour of Oliver Ranch in Sonoma County, which I'm really personally looking forward to, but the tickets are already sold out. I'm also excited about the walking tours, which I mentioned since this year they're a little more esoteric. One is actually a run that Donna Schumacher of X: architecture/ART leads every year. There are underground creeks running under the city that she's mapped out, and she'll lead the run and stop every so often to talk about the sites (Run the Rise, September 19). Last year she did spots in San Francisco where famous films have been shot. It's always a little quirky and exciting.
There's also the closing night party, which is hosted by Good magazine at SPUR (GOOD Design Bay Area Closing Night Event and Party, September 30). It's a reprise of the event we did last year where we chose seven civic leaders, asked them to give us a pressing problem in San Francisco, and then we paired them with a designer who would provide a solution. In some cases they're really realistic solutions but in others, they're more ambitious, creative, and less realistic but they get you thinking of how the problems can be solved.
And then once it's over you get to rest?Not quite. We're hosting one or two Architecture + the City events <a href="http://www.aiasf.org/programs/public_programs/architecture_and_the_city/AC_monthly_series.htm">every month</a> to keep the spirit alive and people engaged. September will always be the big Kahuna but there will also be other programs throughout the year.