American Institute of Architects, San Francisco Chapter


The AIA San Francisco / Center for Architecture + Design Gallery is one of the West Coast’s only spaces devoted solely to the exploration of architecture and design. The gallery specializes in exhibitions that showcase the best of the Bay Area’s design talent, while also exploring issues of national and international concern.


2015 Architecture and the City Festival

PLAY: Design in Action

On view August 28 - November 30, 2015
Opening Reception: August 28, 6:00 pm
AIA San Francisco Center for Architecture + Design Gallery
130 Sutter Street, Suite 600, San Francisco

Good design can be deceptively straightforward. To casual observers, a clever graphic or an elegant product may appear effortless, even obvious. Artists, architects, and designers know that the path to an ideal solution is rarely a direct line from inspiration to finished product. In reality, design is much more dynamic—there is experimentation, collaboration, risk-taking, and improvisation. In other words, the creative process is often playful.

This exhibition examines play as an essential element in the work of eight Bay Area organizations that engage design in diverse ways. It considers, for example, Google’s ever-changing homepage, which breaks the rules of corporate branding. It looks at how Heath Ceramics uses trial and error to hone its masterfully produced line of housewares, and the way Anchor Brewing continually reinvents its Christmas Ale to reinforce a legacy of craftsmanship. Some of the architects and artists represented here make sketches to play with their designs, while others employ state-of-the-art technology to push the limits and possibilities of their fields. All of these playful approaches facilitate problem solving, circumvent the adult impulse to self-edit, and foster environments for innovation.

AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design present this exhibition as part of the 12th annual Architecture and the City festival, which takes place throughout San Francisco every September. Visit for complete information.

About the Curator
Erin Garcia is an independent curator and writer based in the Bay Area. She has worked for the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Oakland Museum. Most recently she was the guest curator of the ongoing exhibition City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World’s Fair, which has installations at the California Historical Society and at the Palace of Fine Arts.


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Small Firms Great Projects 2015

Small Firms, Great Projects showcases the innovative and award-winning work of local architecture and design professionals. Open to architecture, landscape architecture and interior architecture firms with 19 or fewer employees, the program provides a venue for small firms to showcase their best work in a magazine publication, online and companion exhibition.


Home: My San Francisco

The relationship of an individual to his or her home is complex and intimate. In Home: My San Francisco, photographs of twelve unique homes, supplemented with an online trove of images, architectural drawings, videos and texts, help to reveal the narrative environments about the people who live in them and the history of their houses. Together they define the spaces we call home.


Current Hallway Exhibition

Reading Cities: Figure Ground Drawings by John Ellis

36 figure ground drawings, all at the same scale, represent and compare examples of urban form from Roman times to the present day. Urban scale comparisons are shown, sometimes to jarring effect, such as the similar square footage of Heathrow Airport and The City of London.


Awards Exhibition 2014

2014 AIASF Design Awards

AIASF’s Design Awards program celebrates outstanding achievements in architecture and design. Recognizing the work of Bay Area individuals and organizations as well as architects and related professionals from afar who contribute to the framework of our local built environment, the program serves to inform the public of the breadth and value of architectural practice.


AIGA Exhibition 2014

Show and Tell

In honor of AIGA’s Centennial, Show and Tell is an up-close and personal look at legendary designers' early studies, work process, and work product. During the exhibit there will be a series of small conversational event gatherings with design leaders at the Center for Architecture + Design gallery in San Francisco. Curated by Karin Hibma.


awards exhibition 2014

Constructed Realities

Constructed Realities recognizes exemplary performance in a broad range of architectural work, informing the public of the diversity, value, and social power of architecture. 2013 award categories included Small Projects, Architectural Detail, Restaurant Design (in partnership with Golden Gate Restaurant Association) and Social Impact Design (in partnership with Public Architecture).


Fall 2013

Unbuilt San Francisco

On view August 15 - December 31 | AIA San Francisco, Center for Architecture + Design, Environmental Design Archives at UC Berkeley, California Historical Society, SPUR and the San Francisco Public Library are pleased to present Unbuilt San Francisco, a collaborative exhibition on view August – November, 2013.


Awards Exhibition 2013

2013 AIASF Design Awards

In existence for nearly half a century, AIA San Francisco’s Design Awards program recognizes the outstanding achievements in architecture and design of Bay Area individuals and organizations as well as celebrates the distinguished work of architects and related professionals from afar who contribute to the framework of our local built environment.


San Francisco Architecture

Small Firms, Great Projects

Open to architecture, landscape architecture and interior architecture firms with 19 or fewer employees, Small Firms, Great Projects provides a venue for small firms to showcase their best work in a magazine publication, online and companion exhibition.


AIGA Exhibition 2013

Forgotten Modernism

On view through December 20, Forgotten Modernism is an ongoing visual exploration of San Francisco’s often overlooked modern architecture. Using bold colors and stylized graphics, this exhibition portrays San Francisco’s important modernist buildings not as quiet additions to the urban landscape but rather as confident gestures that embody the bold aesthetics of Modern architecture. Sponsored by Dococomo northern CA, Page & Turnbull, AIASF and the Center for Architecture + Design. Artwork by Michael Murphy.


Winter 2012

Architecture at Zero

Architecture at Zero 2012 is a zero net energy design competition open to students and professionals worldwide. The design challenge was a zero net energy (ZNE) student housing or administrative building design for the University of California, Merced. It is expected that all entries will be part of an exhibition that will travel to multiple locations throughout the state of California during 2012. The Architecture at Zero 2012 exhibition is on view through December 20.


Fall 2012

Greetings From San Francisco

Peter Espe’s collection of over 1,000 San Francisco postcards reveals an urban landscape at once foreign and strangely familiar. Espe, a senior project manager at HOK, has been steadily building this vast and varied assemblage of San Francisco history for nearly seven years. Striking images include the Union Ferry Depot in 1915; a depiction of workers laying the Pacific Cable below the Cliff House; and the original de Young Museum (Fine Arts Building) rising above the tree line in Golden Gate Park.


Summer 2012

2012 Design Award Winners

On view May 24 - July 19, AIA San Francisco’s Design Awards exhibition celebrates the best in architecture and urban design in the Bay Area. Winning firms and projects in the categories of Architecture, Interior Architecture, Energy + Sustainability, Historic Preservation, Unbuilt and Special Achievement will be on display.


Spring 2012

Presenting Architecture Exhibition

Presenting Architecture announces its first exhibition and seminar series. Curated by Robert Becker, this exhibition highlights 'case studies' of architectural model makers, photographers and visualization experts, along with a communications case study by author Amanda Walter. These studies explore how artists produce their craft and showcase the importance of using specialists to make your architectural presentation a winning one.


Winter 2011

Architecture at Zero

Architecture at Zero is an international open ideas competition with a focus on the specific challenges of creating urban zero net energy (ZNE) buildings. The competition seeks creative and feasible approaches to urban ZNE building to broaden the conversation around how a site zero net energy project will be approached now and in the future. Further, it seeks to raise the profile of ZNE building among built-environment professionals, students, and the general public in California and beyond.


Fall 2011

cause/effect Design Competition

AIGA San Francisco presents the winners in its cause/affect design competition at a ceremony that unveils the winning work. cause/affect is a biennial graphic design competition which celebrates the work of designers and organizations who set out to positively impact our society. Produced by AIGA San Francisco, this is a competition for do-gooders who do good work.


A+C Festival 2011 Gallery

Architecture of Consequence

The Architecture of Consequence exhibition was a unique collaboration with the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI). In 2009, the NAI presented Architecture of Consequence – Dutch Designs on the Future. Over the past two years it has been presented in multiple locations around the world. This latest incarnation, in San Francisco, is the first to add content to the exhibition with the inclusion of new work by four Bay Area architecture firms.


Awards Exhibition 2011

2011 Design Award Winners

AIA San Francisco’s Design Awards program celebrates the best in architecture and urban design in the Bay Area. Recognizing achievement in a broad range of architectural work by members and nonmembers, the program serves to inform the public of the breadth and value of architectural practice. Winning projects are featured in California Home + Design and all entrants are considered for inclusion in the San Francisco and Marin Home Tours weekends as well as top, national design publications.


Spring 2011

Architectural Photography

Architectural Photography featured the creative work of a group of talented Bay Area architectural photographers. More than pictorial representations of a static building or space, the images are expressions of the architect's vision through the photographer's filtered camera lens.


Small Firms Exhibition 2011

Small Firms, Great Projects

Celebrating exceptional Bay Area architecture, this exhibition showcases the innovative and award-winning work of local architecture and design professionals. Whether you are looking for an architect, or simply passionate about architecture, Small Firms, Great Projects is an invaluable resource. The exhibition introduces viewers to architecture and design firms experienced in a wide range of work, including new residences and remodels, commercial and retail spaces, educational, civic, institutional and religious projects, historic preservation, and landscape and interior design.


Winter 2010

Art for Architecture

Art for Architecture, an exhibition and online auction, featured a collection of exclusive drawings by internationally acclaimed architects and designers. A benefit for the Center for Architecture + Design, this exhibition and auction highlighted sketches of buildings and landscapes that capture the beauty of San Francisco and cities beyond. Images on display and auction included collage, watercolor, pen and ink drawings of new and proposed architectural landmarks.


Fall 2010

Water for a Sustainable City

Water for a Sustainable City addressed the complicated story of San Francisco's relationship to the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power System and examined everything from the typical San Franciscan’s water usage to the city’s growing dependence on alternative energy and water. Represented through charts and photographs, the exhibition showcased how far the typical San Franciscan's water travels—from glacier to watershed to faucet.


Summer 2010

AIGA SF Design Week

AIGA San Francisco Design Week exhibition featured award-winning design from AIGA San Francisco, American Institute of Architects (AIA), Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), Interaction Design Association (IxDA), and Society for Environmental Graphic Design (SEGD).