The Center was founded as an independent non-profit in 2003 by the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA Philadelphia). The Center provides the public with a place to explore architecture, urban planning, and design, allowing them 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 walking tours, guest speakers, exhibitions, hands-on workshops, design competitions, festivals, and children’s programming.
The Center's signature annual festival, DesignPhiladelphia, is the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. Each October, DesignPhiladelphia highlights the work of hundreds of local designers, architects, and creative professionals with over 100 events citywide including panel discussions, fashion shows, hands-on workshops, studio tours, book signings, professional development classes, design exhibitions, and imaginative celebrations.
The Center brings together architects, designers, developers, thought leaders, and the public under one roof and also provides office space for AIA Philadelphia, the Community Design Collaborative, and the AIA Bookstore. The Center is open to the public seven days a week.