An independent non-profit, the Center was founded in 2002 by the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Philadelphia). The Center provides the public with a space and with programming to explore architecture, urban planning, and design, allowing them opportunities to understand how these disciplines affect us all in our daily lives. Using Philadelphia's distinctive breadth of architecture, pioneering urban design, and manufacturing heritage as the foundation for conversation, we educate the public through talks, exhibitions, publications, hands-on workshops, design competitions, festivals, and children’s programming.
The Center's signature annual festival, DesignPhiladelphia, is the oldest of its kind in the country. Each October, DesignPhiladelphia highlights the work of hundreds of local designers, architects, and creative professionals with approximately 100 events citywide including panel discussions, hands-on workshops, studio tours, book signings, professional development classes, design exhibitions, fashion shows, and imaginative celebrations.
The Center brings together architects, designers, developers, thought leaders, and the public under one roof and also provides office space to AIA Philadelphia, the Community Design Collaborative, and the AIA Bookstore. The Center is open to the public six days a week.