About the Center for Architecture and Design

About the Center for Architecture and Design

About the Center for Architecture and Design

The Center provides Philadelphia with educational programs, exhibitions, and a public forum to explore architecture, urban planning, and design, allowing visitors the opportunity to understand how these disciplines affect us all in our daily lives. Using our city's distinctive breadth of architecture, pioneering urban design, and manufacturing heritage as the foundation for conversation, we educate the public through talks, exhibitions, publications, hands-on workshops, design competitions, festivals, and children’s programming. 

The Center's signature annual festival, DesignPhiladelphia, is the oldest of its kind in the nation. Over the course of 11 days each October, DesignPhiladelphia highlights the work of hundreds of local designers, architects, and creative professionals with 100+ events citywide including panel discussions, hands-on workshops, studio tours, book signings, professional development classes, design exhibitions, fashion shows, and imaginative celebrations.

The Center brings together architects, designers, developers, building industry partners, thought leaders, local representatives, and the public under one roof and also provides office space to AIA Philadelphia and the Community Design Collaborative. An independent 501(c)3 educational non-profit organization, the Center was founded in 2002 by the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Philadelphia). The Center is free to visit and open to the public five days a week.

We rely on the support of donors like you to make our programs possible:

Support us with a donation of any amount

The Center is a proud member of:
 - The Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia
 - The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
 - Visit Philadelphia

Our Mission

The Center for Architecture and Design’s mission is to engage and educate the public about the importance of architecture, urban planning, and design to the quality of their lives. We accomplish our mission through three main goals:

  • Champion the value of thoughtful architecture & design and how it shapes the City of Philadelphia
  • Celebrate and promote the built environment and related design disciplines
  • Connect the design community and general public through meaningful programming and education.  Further, we leverage our physical space as the hub for the Philadelphia design community and the general public.


Our Six Values

Design impacts the lives of our citizens, and citizens educated about design improve our lives.  We need to empower all voices and bring everyone to the table if we are going to continue to thrive as a society that serves and benefits all.  The Center believes that designers are powerful advocates to accomplish these lofty goals, therefore we rely on the following values to strategically guide all of our programs and initiatives:

  • We believe thoughtful design can inspire and empower people within their local communities
  • We believe every student should have access to design education
  • We believe connecting the general public and the design community helps solve some of the most pressing problems in our city
  • We believe designers are a critical part of our local economy
  • We believe a diverse design community is more responsive and accountable to the communities it designs for
  • We believe in the preservation and progression of our city’s unique design legacy


Our Facility

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, and a gallery with rotating exhibitions about architecture, urban planning, and design. We host over 600 meetings, public programs, and private events in our space each year. Our unique facility is available to rent for your creative event.

Our Original Capital Contributers

These visionary organizations generously supported the Center's first Capital Campaign to make our facility a reality - without them the Center would have remained a blueprint of an idea: