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What To See At New York's Architecture And Design Film Festival
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What To See At New York's Architecture And Design Film Festival

Picture of Dana deLaski
Updated: 19 September 2016
The Architecture and Design Film Festival (ADFF) comes to New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago each year, showcasing the best in architecture and design films, panels, and events. This year, it comes to New York from September 28th through October 2nd, and the shows will be held at Cinépolis Chelsea. You can purchase tickets to the shows in person, online, or by phone, and tickets cost $16.50 per show, or you can opt for a packaged deal. Films come from directors from around the world (many of them making their US debut at the festival) and vary in length and subject matter. Everything from personal stories to histories of particular buildings will be shown, so check out their website and the list below for some of the highlights.

Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future

Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future will kick off the festival on opening night. The film about the iconic Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen follows Eric, Eero’s son, as he travels to see his father’s creations around the country. Buildings include St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, Dulles Airport, New York’s TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport, and more, and the film uses drone technology to showcase his work from above. Directed by Peter Rosen, an acclaimed director responsible for over 100 films and TV shows, it’s sure to be one of the hits of the festival.

📅 Wednesday, September 28th & Sunday, October 2nd

Eero Saarinen with model and sketches of St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, ca. 1958. Credit: Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University Library
Eero Saarinen with model and sketches of St. Louis’ Gateway Arch, ca. 1958. Credit: Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University Library

Pioneer | Stephen Talasnik

Also showing on opening night, Pioneer is the story of an architectural work of art. It traces the history of the permanent, large-scale sculpture at an art center in Fishtail, Montana by Stephen Talasnik. The sculpture is made from 100 percent yellow cedar from the Northwestern United States and is now a part of the landscape. Directed by Taylor Fraser, it’s the story of how this structure, which is both architecturally and artistically fascinating, came to be.

📅 Wednesday, September 28th & Sunday, October 2nd

The Happy Film

Brought to the festival by American directors Stefan Sagmeister, Ben Nabors and Hillman Curtis, The Happy Film is about a different sort of design. It’s the story of a graphic designer who decides there must be more to life, so he chooses to turn himself and his life into his next project. He tries to redesign his personality and experiments with meditation and drugs; the results (perhaps not surprisingly) turn out different than he expected. It’s a story about life and humanity to which anyone can relate.

📅 Thursday, September 29th & Sunday, October 2nd

A Journey Around The Moon

A Journey Around The Moon, or Voyage Autour de la Lune, is a rare story that tells a deeply personal and psychological tale via the map of a city. The film is about the city of Bordeaux, France, and it follows the river that runs through its center. It shows how space and geography can change and determine the identity of a city and the people within it, drawing parallels between the twists and turns of a river and the twists and turns of life. French directors Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine are known for their architectural tales, and their work has even been acquired by MoMA.

📅 Friday, September 30th & Sunday, October 2nd

Where Architects Live

Unlike many of the films that tell stories of particular buildings or architectural landmarks, Where Architects Live takes a personal look at the architects themselves. The film showcases the homes of eight architects from different cities around the world – New York, Tokyo, Paris, Mumbai, Berlin, Sao Paolo, London, and Milan – and illustrates how there is no single correct way to live. The film comes from Italian director Francesca Molteni and her own production company, MUSE.

📅 Saturday, October 1st

Where Architects Live: Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas' Home | © Aki Furudate
Where Architects Live: Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas’ Home | © Aki Furudate


Directed by Adrian Dorschner and Thomas Beyer, Bowlingtreff is both of these men’s first film. Both born in Leipzig, Germany, they have backgrounds in architecture, journalism, and geography. The documentary tells the story of the first bowling alley in Leipzig and further discusses the architectural history of East Germany in which this building was one of the only postmodern structures.

📅 Sunday, October 2nd

Bowlingtreff | Courtesy of Novità Communications
Bowlingtreff | Courtesy of Novità Communications

Making Carmel Place

From Finnish director Antti Seppänen, who specializes in architectural film, comes the story of a New York City apartment building, Carmel Place, on the East Side of Manhattan. The building became known as the city’s first micro-apartment building. The short film goes into its phases of construction and reveals the challenges both architects and designers faced, and for those living in New York, it’s particularly eye-opening. The apartments are about 300 square feet and run between $2,400 to $3,000 per month.

📅 Sunday, October 2nd

How do you live in 302 sq ft? Click the link in our bio to see how we transformed Carmel Place. #transformationtuesday #carmelplace

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