About the Center for Architecture

Photo © Bob Graham, Jr.
About the Center for Architecture

About the Center for Architecture

Founded in 2002 by the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Philadelphia), the Center provides the public with a place to explore architecture, urban planning, and design, allowing them to understand how these creative professions affect us all in our daily lives. Using Philadelphia's distinctive breadth of architecture, pioneering urban design, and manufacturing heritage as the foundation for discussion, we educate the public through walking tours, exhibitions, guest speakers, hands-on workshops, design competitions, festivals, and children’s programming.

The Center's signature annual festival, DesignPhiladelphia, is the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Each October, DesignPhiladelphia highlights the work of thousands of local designers, architects, and creative professionals with over 100 events citywide including panel discussions, fashion shows, participatory workshops, studio tours, book signings, professional development classes, design exhibitions, and imaginative celebrations.

The Center brings together architects, designers, developers, thought leaders, and the public under one roof and also serves as the physical home for AIA Philadelphia, the Community Design Collaborative, and the AIA Bookstore. The Center is open to the public seven days a week.

In 2008, the Center moved into the ground floor of the historic Young Smyth Field building at 1218 Arch Street, across from the Pennsylvania Convention Center. This contemporary industrial loft space includes a public forum, meeting rooms, offices, a design gift shop, and a gallery with rotating exhibitions relevant to design professionals but accessible to the public. This unique facility is available to rent for private meetings and public celebrations alike.


Our Vision

The Center for Architecture supports, promotes, and demonstrates the ability that design has to solve problems, enhance daily life, generate innovation, and influence both the perceptions and economics of the greater Philadelphia region. Through public engagement, education, and professional/public/private collaboration, the Center unifies the city's design culture bringing together architects, creative entrepreneurs, manufacturers, educators, civic leaders, retailers, and the public to build a 21st century city shaped by thoughtful design, collaborative business practices, and community engagement.


Capital Contributers

These visionary organizations generously supported the Center's original Capital Campaign - without them the Center would have remained a blueprint of an idea: