Architecture and the City

AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design present the Architecture and the City festival, the nation’s largest architectural festival of its kind. Taking place in San Francisco every September, the month-long celebration features behind the scenes and walking tours, films, exhibitions, lectures and more, providing opportunities for participants to engage with the local architecture community and experience design in a myriad of ways throughout the city.

Over 40 festival programs taking place in many of the city’s diverse neighborhoods will address the festival theme and various aspects of the design and planning process. As we experience elements of our built environment at different stages – from theoretical urban interventions and works in progress to civic landmarks and hidden histories – architects and designers will discuss the ways their work alters and redefines the city we call home.

Images © Boor Bridges / Bruce Damonte; © Fougeron Architecture; © AIASF; © ehdd / Michael David Rose

2014 Festival Theme: HOME: My San Francisco

The 2014 Architecture and the City festival theme, HOME: My San Francisco, will address how we define the space we call home and its relation to the broader urban fabric. Through lectures, panel discussions, tours and other community events, the festival will examine the shifting nature of home and the different elements that contribute to our definition. Programs will explore the challenges facing San Francisco in a time of rapidly intensifying housing needs, as well as past, present and future Bay Area communities.

Submit a Program

The Center for Architecture + Design invites you to submit programs that address our most pressing urban issues, demonstrate innovation in working toward a more sustainable future, and explore how progressive design and creative problem solving improve our quality of life in the Bay Area. Ideas that investigate the ways architecture thoughtfully impacts community and reflects issues of sustainability will be given first preference. Submissions may also address the festival theme HOME: My San Francisco.

We welcome ideas for behind-the-scenes events, innovative tours, interactive workshops, collaborative lectures, and activities that engage multiple senses such as tastings, exhibitions or participatory events. Successful proposals will demonstrate the variety of ways design enhances our lives and inspires creative civic engagement. Programs must take place in San Francisco or Marin counties.

The submission deadline is March 28, 2014 at 5:00 pm. Applicants will be notified of final decisions by Friday, May 2, 2014. If selected, the festival staff will contact you to begin arranging the details for inclusion in the festival. PLEASE NOTE: Only fully completed submission forms will be considered.

Download Submission Form (.doc)

For questions contact Jaime Wong, Program Manager, at or 415.874.2632.

Festival Programs

Behind the Scenes Tours

Highlighting the collaborative nature of design in the city, Behind the Scenes tours explore the ways architecture intersects with the creative forces at work behind some of San Francisco’s latest noteworthy projects. Learn more.

Walking Tours

Rediscover San Francisco’s unique neighborhoods with walking tours that explore the mix of layered history and contemporary design in our city. Learn more.


Lectures convene leading minds on issues in architecture, design and urban planning. From design trends to addressing spatial challenges in the Bay Area, experts share their ideas, creativity and visions for our local built environment. Learn more.

Festival Website

Visit to learn more about past and present festival programs.

2013 Architecture and the City Festival: Unbuilt San Francisco

San Francisco’s architectural heritage consists of the buildings and spaces we see and touch, but also the structures that were never built and the plans that never came to be. The 2013 festival theme, Unbuilt San Francisco, will explore a parallel history of this ever-provocative city.

Unbuilt San Francisco, a collaborative exhibition co-curated by AIA San Francisco, Center for Architecture + Design, Environmental Design Archives at UC Berkeley, California Historical Society, SPUR and the San Francisco Public Library, will be on view August – December 2013 at various locations.

Throughout the month, festival tours and lectures explore the mix of layered history and contemporary design that contribute to the uniqueness of our vibrant community. During the 2013 festival, participants learned more about proposals for the Presidio’s newest cultural institution, plans for some of San Francisco’s most heavily used thoroughfares, architectural gems of Chinatown, the future of Marin County Civic Center, and more.

Opening Night Party + 280 Freeway Competition Announcement

August 30, 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Obscura Digital, 729 Tennessee Street, San Francisco
A benefit for the Center for Architecture + Design

The Opening Night Party kicked off the festival with a salute to the many individuals, organizations, cultural institutions and nonprofits that make the month of celebration, exploration and inspiration possible. Interactive media agency Obscura Digital hosted the festive evening at its Dogpatch headquarters, designed by IwamotoScott Architecture.

The Center for Architecture + Design and The Seed Fund also announced the winners of the inaugural “Reimagine. Reconnect. Restore. What if 280 Came Down?” competition. The competition encouraged entrants to submit concepts for public art, buildings, landscape treatments, public amenities, or other urban design interventions that envisioned our city without the elevated Highway 280 north of 16th Street.

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Image courtesy Obscura Digital