This month, AIA Conference on Architecture 2019 attendees shuffling between keynotes and workshops would be wise to budget a few extra minutes between sessions—to catch a movie.
The Westgate Resort & Casino’s Pavilion Four will host a 32-film program, organized by the AIA and the Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF), called the Blueprint for Better Film Series, highlighting architects’ roles in improving the places where people live. More than 20 of the films are no longer than five minutes, with some starting as early as 8 a.m., to “accommodate more of that conference schedule,” says ADFF founder and festival director Kyle Bergman.
There are four short-film programs—Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion; Design & Culture; Urbanism & Housing; and Resilient & Healthy Communities—and a few features. The series is organized around the AIA’s year-long Blueprint for Better campaign, which encourages architects to collaborate with civic and elected leaders and, through initiatives like the film series, aims to promote the perception of design professionals as thought leaders.
That mission is certainly reflected in the films. Premiering at the conference, Designed to Last: Blueprint for a Better Home focuses on how architect Illya Azaroff is addressing climate change by designing a resilient, sustainable house in Queens, New York, for a resident whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
Also screening is Past/Presence: Saving the Spring Garden School, which details the adaptive reuse of Philadelphia’s Spring Garden School as affordable housing for veterans and seniors—after it stood abandoned for nearly 40 years. The documentary won the 2018 AIA Film Challenge, an annual program that invites architects and filmmakers to submit short videos about design professionals making a positive impact on their cities.
Another film, Caño Martin Peña: A Blueprint for Better, presents a powerful record of the work done by architects, including Jonathan Marvel, to help a devastated Puerto Rico community recover from Hurricane Maria. The film, which premiered last year, doubles as a kind of ad for the AIA’s Blueprint initiative.
And playing at Eclipse Theaters—a few miles away from the main conference sites, in an attempt to engage the broader Las Vegas community— a feature-length documentary called The Experimental City will dive into a never-built utopian project planned for the woods of northern Minneapolis in the 1960s.
The Blueprint for Better series chronicles how architects and designers have confronted a host of civic and environmental challenges, while giving the professionals descending on Las Vegas a taste of the ADFF they might not get otherwise. “The goal of the AIA Film Challenge is the same as the goal of the ADFF: to use film to broaden the conversation about architecture and design,” Bergman tells RECORD. “We align really well in that respect.”