American Institute of Architects, San Francisco Chapter

Architecture and the City

Presented by AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design, the annual Architecture and the City festival is one of the nation's largest architectural festivals of its kind. Taking place in San Francisco every September, the monthlong celebration features behind the scenes and walking tours, films, exhibitions, lectures and more that address varying aspects of the design and planning process.

Over 40 programs throughout the month provide an excellent opportunity for participants to engage with the local architecture community and experience design in a myriad of ways throughout the city.

2016 Festival Theme

Resilient City: Strength by Design

This year, the 2016 Architecture and the City festival will focus on the theme “Resilient City: Strength by Design” and investigate how architecture and design arts can proactively respond to urban resiliency challenges that affect San Francisco’s environmental, social and economic sustainability. More specifically, proposed topics to address include:

  • How do we empower citizens to proactively prepare for diverse disaster threats without cultivating a culture of fear?
  • How do we support aging in place for elderly citizens who wish to remain in San Francisco as they grow older?
  • How to we offer greater opportunity for residents and law enforcement agencies to build equitable relationships that foster trust and justice?
  • How do we prepare for the impacts of global climate change and re-introduce lost ecologies to the urban landscape?
  • How can we overcome housing challenges for San Francisco’s homeless population?

Visit for all festival program and event information.

Festival Updates

Get updates on Architecture and the City festival programs and events! Follow the festival on Twitter at @archandcity and on Facebook.

Past Festivals


Play: Design in Action

In 2015, the Architecture and the City festival theme was Play: Design in Action. We examined play as a dynamic and essential element of the creative process for design arts, explored how it is employed by San Francisco’s design community and discussed how it can be applied to other fields (health, education, economic development).

As we explored how designers incorporate play into their creative process, we examined questions like:

  1. How does a playful approach help overcome adult tendencies to self-edit and truncate the creative process?
  2. How do we develop “rules for the game” that go beyond standard problem solving methods, which can stifle the creative process?
  3. How do we create an environment for taking risks, making mistakes, and learning?

Purchase the Limited Edition 2015 Architecture and the City poster by Michael Schwab Studio here!


Home: My San Francisco

Home: My San Francisco examines the shifting nature of home, the different elements that contribute to its definition, and its relation to the urban fabric. Over 40 festival programs will celebrate the cultural richness and diversity of our local architectural and design community as well as provide a platform for conversation about our changing landscape and its implications for a city in a time of rapidly intensifying housing needs.


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, explored a parallel history of this ever-provocative city. The collaborative Unbuilt San Francisco exhibition was 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.


Design: It's About Time

In an era when many aspects of our lives become seemingly obsolete and replaceable overnight, the fabric of the city often feels like the most permanent feature of our daily lives. With the 2012 festival theme, Design: It’s About Time, we encourage you to pause and consider the enduring power of design in our built environment.


Architecture of Consequence

AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design selected Architecture of Consequence as the theme for the 2011 festival. A collaborative exhibition featuring work by design firms from the Netherlands and the Bay Area demonstrated how progressive design and creative problem solving can address many of our most pressing urban issues, from decreased social cohesion and unsustainable food systems to diminishing free time.

Visit for more information about past festivals.


Email Jaime Wong or call 415.874.2632 with questions or inquiries about AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design's annual Architecture and the City festival.