From Stefan Sagmeister’s attempts to create a happy life to MASS Design Group’s efforts to engineer away an epidemic, the New York Architecture & Design Film Festival covers plenty of creative territory. Here are 10 highlights from the festival, which runs September 28 to October 2.
1 Shigeru Ban’s Aspen Art Museum (6 minutes)
This short film goes inside Pritzker-winning architect Shigeru Ban’s 2014 masterpiece, a lattice-clad art museum in the Colorado ski resort town of Aspen. The film reveals the museum’s unique transparency and open sightlines – and explores its relationship to the picturesque surroundings – through cinematic time-lapse sequences and interviews with Ban and museum director Heidi Zuckerman.
2 Pioneer (6 minutes)
The Tippet Rise Art Center in Montana (featured in Azure’s October issue) offers artists as wide-open a landscape as they could hope for, as well as a chance to develop works on an especially massive scale. Pioneer traces the origins of Stephen Talasnik’s sculpture of the same name, a cedar timber–framed construction inspired by the Space Architecture of the ’60s, giving the artist an opportunity to share his creative process in his own voice.
3 Eero Saarinen: The Architect Who Saw the Future (68 minutes)
The son of Eero Saarinen is also the director of photography for this stunning film, which uses drones equipped with ultra-high resolution cameras to capture the influential mid-century architect’s works as never before. This feature-length documentary vividly portrays everything from Saarinen’s Gateway Arch in St. Louis to his equally iconic Tulip Chair. (Those who can’t make it to New York can catch the film on PBS’s American Masters in December.)
4 Casa Caldera – D U S T (8 minutes)
Every location presents its own unique challenges to the practice of architecture. Casa Caldera profiles Cade Hayes and Jesus Robles of design / build firm D U S T through the lens of one house in arid southern Arizona – a project that offered the duo a chance to explore a terrain of uncommon ruggedness and the obstacles of extreme remoteness.
5 The Happy Film (95 minutes)
Stefen Sagmeister is well-known in graphic design circles for his eye-catching album covers and advertising concepts. In this long-awaited film, Sagmeister sets out to document his search for something more, attempting to redesign his life and himself through meditation, therapy and drugs. Embellished with maxims rendered in Sagmeister’s signature style, the result is a highly personal account of a journey that is predictably unpredictable.
6 Out of Office: Studio O + A (10 minutes)
Arguably, no firm has exerted a greater influence on the design of modern American offices – especially the San Francisco HQs for such tech giants as Cisco, Evernote and Alibaba. Out of Office looks inside the office of the office pros, as O + A founders Primo Orpilla and Verda Alexander go inside the innovative workspaces they’ve designed for Yelp, Uber and more.
7 Making Carmel Place (10 minutes)
Brooklyn’s nArchitects is on a roll, claiming awards left and right for Carmel Place – a New York pilot project for affordable micro-housing that relies on modular construction to keep construction costs down. This short film checks on the project to examine the problems nArchitects encountered at different phases of planning and construction, as well as the problem-solving approach that ultimately overcame them.
8 Some Kind of Joy: The Inside Story of Grimshaw in Twelve Buildings (60 minutes)
With new footage of a dozen ground-breaking buildings, and interviews with the people behind Grimshaw Architects, Some Kind of Joy sheds light on the inner workings of one of the world’s most renowned firms. The buildings profiled here range from Sir Nicholas Grimshaw’s first, completed in 1967, to the firm’s later train stations and transit hubs, and culminates with the 2014 opening of the Fulton Center in New York, seen here.
9 Chen Chen & Kai Williams in Practice (4 minutes)
Though short (it clocks in at just four minutes), this film gives unique insight into the inspirations that drive Chen Chen & Kai Williams’ experimental approach to developing furniture and interiors – and captures the playful approach to material exploration that has led to such unusual products as lamps and tables made from rainbow-swirl resin, and coasters sliced from a urethane “ham hock.”
10 Design That Heals (31 minutes)
MASS Design Group’s cholera clinic in Haiti has been lauded not just for a carefully structured end result that helps to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases even while operating on a micro budget – but also for the highly collaborative process that was used to develop it. Design That Heals profiles MASS and the doctor – embedded in Haiti for decades on his quest to fight cholera – who led the challenge to eradicate both the disease and the social conditions that help it to spread.