Archtober 2021: This year’s best in-person and virtual architecture and design events

September 15, 2021

Photo of Little Island by Michael Grimm Photography, Photo of Freshkills Park courtesy of Rebecka Gordon, Photo of the Brooklyn Central Library by the Center for Architecture, and Photo of the Brooklyn Bridge by Ling Tang on Unsplash

A monthlong celebration of architecture and design returns to New York City next month with a mix of virtual and in-person events. Now in its 11th year, the Center for Architecture’s Archtober includes a host of events, exhibitions, and expert-led tours and talks, all of which provide a behind-the-scenes look at the buildings, cultural institutions, and public space that make New York, New York. For the second year in a row because of the coronavirus, the festival will feature a combination of in-person and virtual programming, allowing more people than ever to participate. Ahead, find just some of our favorite events happening for the festival, which runs through the month of October.

“As New York City continues to reopen and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we welcome all New Yorkers and visitors alike to celebrate our city’s resiliency and capacity for transformation,” Benjamin Prosky, the executive director of AIA New York and the Center for Architecture, said.

“We hope you will join us and our partner institutions as we discover buildings and design experiences located across the five boroughs, all of which contribute to our city’s vibrant and diverse cultural landscape.”


AIANY Industrial Waterway Tour: Freshkills Park in Staten Island Boat Tour
Saturday, October 9, 1:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

This boat tour takes participants behind the scenes of Freshkills Park on Staten Island, formerly home to the area’s largest garbage landfill and will soon become the city’s largest park. Led by NYC Parks and AIA New York guides, the in-person tour explores the industrial waterfront of Bayonne and Newark Bay, the history of Freshkills Landfill, all while surrounded by wildlife and vegetation. Tickets include one complimentary beverage from the bar.

Green-Wood After Hours
Friday, October 2 & Saturday, October 9, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. 
$30/$25 for members
Explore the final resting place of over 500,000 “permanent residents” under the cover of darkness during this special walking tour of Green-Wood Cemetery. The two-hour tour explores the 478-acre cemetery, with stops at the graves of famous figures in New York and American history. Plus, the tour ends with a visit to the Catacombs, usually off-limits to the public.

Community Paddle at Concrete Plant Park
Friday, October 8, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Hosted by the Bronx River Alliance, the free community paddle offers a guided kayak and canoe tour of the river. Leaving from the boat launch at Concrete Plant Park, a former abandoned concrete plant turned public park, paddlers will spend about 30 to 45 minutes on the river.

Curator Walking Tour: The World in Morningside Heights
Friday, October 8, 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
$25/ $20 members
Museum of the City of New York fellow, architectural historian, and educator Azra Dawood will lead a tour of Morningside Heights and its international communities, thanks to the area’s educational and religious institutions. The tour covers the architecture and history of the Rockefeller-funded International Student house, Sakura Park, and other important sites. Get more details and reserve a spot here.


23rd Annual Landscape Design Portfolio Lecture Series: Lisa Switkin (virtual)
Monday, October 4, 6:30 p.m.
$18/$15 members

In this virtual talk, Lisa Switkin, senior principal at James Corner Field Operations, discusses new forms of public space, social cohesion, and the “cohabitation” of humans and nature. The architect explores projects like the High Line, Domino Park, River Ring, and Freshkills Park in Staten Island.

Emery Roth’s 150th Birthday Celebration (virtual)
Tuesday, October 5, 1 p.m.

The Eldorado, The San Remo, the Beresford. These are just three famous buildings in New York designed by Emery Roth’s Emery Roth & Sons. Hosted by Untapped Cities, this virtual event pays homage to Roth, 150 years after his birth. Author Andrew Alpern will explore the family and its architectural legacy and will be joined in discussion by family members Richard Roth, Jr. and Emery Roth II.

Documenting A Pandemic: What We’ve Learned (virtual)
Tuesday, October 5, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Queens Memory Project, a collaboration of Queens College Library and Queens Public Library, is an ongoing collection of personal histories, images, and records of life in the borough. Members of the project will host a free one-hour talk about the lessons from the COVID-19 Project, including how they incorporated diverse voices into the archives.

Building the Brooklyn Bridge (1869 to 1883)
Tuesday, October 5, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Learn about one of the world’s most famous bridges during this discussion hosted by author Jeffrey I. Richman, who recently published the book Building the Brooklyn Bridge. Richman will discuss the history and technology behind the innovative structure and how it connected two of America’s most populous cities: Brooklyn and New York.

Doc Chat: The 1811 Plan for Manhattan, a Treasure of the New York Public Library (virtual)
Thursday, October 7, 3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Here’s an opportunity to learn about what many city planners call the most important document in the development of New York City. Dig deep into the archives of the New York Public Library with Sara Spink and Ian Fowler to discuss the 1811 Commissioners’ Map and Survey of Manhattan Island. The virtual talk coincides with the opening of the Polonsky Exhibition of the New York Public Library’s Treasures, a permanent exhibition of rotating rare objects and artifacts collected by the library over the last 125 years.

Building of the Day
Archtober’s popular “Building of the Day” series returns to a largely in-person format this year. The architect-led tours include explorations of Little Island by Heatherwick Studio, the Africa Center by Caples Jefferson Architects, the Brooklyn Public Library Central Branch Renovation by Toshiko Mori Architects11 Hoyt by Studio Gang, and Dia Art Foundation by Architecture Research Office.

The Archtober Guide to NYC Map
New to the festival this year is a mobile map that helps users experience the city through the eyes of an architect. The digital Archtober Guide to NYC map highlights significant architectural sites, cultural institutions, and parks, as well as nearby neighborhood eateries. The app also includes a “weekend getaway” feature that highlights the best architecture and design spots outside of the city.

Find the full lineup of Archtober 2021 events, programming, tours, talks, activities, and more, here.


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