Archtober: A Monthlong Celebration of Design and Architecture Returns to New York City

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By William Lamb
With Dwell on Design New York as an anchor, the festival enters its fourth year with programs and tours in all five boroughs.

Organizers, partners, and other stakeholders in Archtober—a monthlong celebration of architecture, design, and civic engagement that kicks off in New York City on October 1—offered a preview Tuesday of what attendees can expect when the festival returns for its fourth year.

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The Manhattan headquarters of the Barbarian Group, designed by Clive Wilkinson Architects, will be the Archtober Building of the Day on Friday, October 10. Its signature feature is an "Endless Desk" that seats all of the firm's 125 employees while defining distinct spaces within the workplace.

A collaborative effort by the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, the Center for Architecture, and more than 50 other organizations, Archtober will fill the five boroughs with tours, exhibitions, screenings, and lectures that focus attention on the city’s complex and intoxicating built environment.

"Great public works promote civil society and create social equity," said Cynthia Kracauer, managing director of the AIA New York Chapter and the Archtober festival director. "Let Archtober’s five-borough programs, tours, and buildings show you that."

The festival offers a mix of familiar favorites and new programs that build on the festival’s past success. One of the more popular holdovers is the Building of the Day program; at noon each day, a building nominated by one of the sponsoring organizations from among the winners of various design awards will be featured on a tour led by the architect who designed it, or a member of that person’s firm.

In a twist this year, Pentagram, the New York-based international design consulting firm, will create a lounge at the Center for Architecture on LaGuardia Place that will serve as a home base for Archtober and the Building of the Day tours. Pentagram also has also designed a series of postcards for each of the tour buildings that will be available in the lounge. "Collect them all," Kracauer said. "We are going to stamp them at the Building of the Day tours, and at the end of the month, the person with the most is going to get an autographed copy of the AIA Guide to New York City."

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The Greenpoint, Brooklyn, offices of Kickstarter, designed by Ole Sondresen Architect, will be featured on the Building of the Day tour on October 9.

Also new to the mix this year is the first iteration of Dwell on Design New York, offering three days of home tours, editor-curated discussions on design and architecture, and more than 35,000 square feet of engaging exhibition space at 82 Mercer Street. Registration for Dwell on Design New York, which runs from October 9 to 11, is now open.

Michela O’Connor Abrams, Dwell’s president and CEO, said the overarching idea was to create a space and program with wide appeal, "so that everyone—not just the incredible, talented professionals and trade organizations that celebrate those professions, but everyone—can participate in how important how architecture is to our culture, to the legacy that we leave, and to the vibrant and diverse environment that each of the cities around the country represent."

To distinguish Dwell on Design New York from its popular and more established counterpart in Los Angeles, sponsors were told to leave their trade-show booths behind. "We said … you must partner with an architect or a designer in order to bring your brand to life in a way that will be completely immersive and connected with all of the speakers and the context in one very fluid and engaging environment," O’Connor Abrams said. "And so 20 companies took us up on that challenge and will be showing themselves quite beautifully and proudly those three days."

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The Donald Judd Home and Studio in SoHo, which recently reopened following a resotration by Architecture Research Office and Walter B. Melvin Architects, will be the Building of the Day on October 20.

Archtober also will offer a preview of the design submissions for the proposed Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki. Laura Miller, the Guggenheim’s director of marketing, said that Joel Sanders, a New York architect and an adjunct professor at the Yale School of Architecture, will moderate a discussion at the Center for Architecture on October 15 "about the competition and about the future of museum design." Panelists will include members of the competition jury and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as Jeanne Gang, founder and principal of Studio Gang Architects, which has offices in New York and Chicago.

The Architecture and Design Film Festival, which runs from October 15 through 19 at the Tribeca Cinemas, will present a number of U.S. premieres. One of these is Cathedrals of Culture, a series of six short 3-D films conceived by Wim Wenders and directed by celebrated filmmakers—including Robert Redford and Wenders himself—that explore what famous buildings would say if they could speak. The festival also boasts a few world premieres, notably Eileen Gray: Gray Matters, a documentary about the architect and furniture designer.

"For the next three weeks it’s a great time to rest up. Get sleep, eat well, exercise a little bit," said Kyle Bergman, the film festival’s founder and director. "Archtober is a sprint, and it’s amazing that the city can put on this kind of event—I mean that the city can handle this—and that so many amazing events happen and that it can be for a month. I actually don’t think any other city can sustain that energy and that kind of design quality."

The full program and building tour schedule can be found at