September 29, 2016
by David Rockwell
David Rockwell, FAIA© Brigitte Lacombe 2014
Bobby Flay's Gato, designed by the Rockwell Group.Eric Laignel
AIANY and Classic Harbor's Around Manhattan Boat Tour circumnavigates the island.Dennis Cahlo

David Rockwell, FAIA, Founder and President of the Rockwell Group, takes us around the city during Archtober. See more itineraries by NYC design voices here.

There’s a wealth of inspiration during Archtober, from tours of the Noguchi Museum and Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island, to a walk between the warehouses of the South Street Seaport and a boat ride under of all of Manhattan’s 18 bridges. I’m excited about artist Spencer Finch’s miniature live Redwood forest, which will grow in Brooklyn between October and next spring. 

I’m also really looking forward to “Architecture and Ornament in the Heart of Central Park.” Central Park is one of my favorite public spaces in New York. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s vision was truly miraculous. The park has successfully become a profoundly democratic communal mixing chamber where everyone can congregate and share the city.

David’s Archtober Events 

Louis Kahn & the Making of Public Space Today: Lecture and Tour
Saturday, October 1, 1:30-4:00 pm

FDR Four Freedoms Park (SOLD OUT – See more Four Freedoms Park events here)
William Whitaker, curator of the Louis I. Kahn Collection at the University of Pennsylvania, will discuss the challenges of creating public spaces today, telling the story of the park’s design, the sudden death of its architect, the near-bankruptcy of the city, and the effort that brought it to reality.

Hidden History of the South Street Seaport’s Architecture
Sunday, October 2, 3:00-4:00 pm

South Street Seaport Museum
From rat pits to a warehouse built by one of the most famous American architects of the 19th century, the buildings of the Seaport have a big story to tell about the rise of New York. Take a walk with us and discover the origins of New York’s greatness.

Architecture and Ornament in the Heart of Central Park
Tuesday, October 4, 11:00 am-12:30 pm

Central Park Conservancy
Explore structures and landscape architecture that were the fundamental guiding elements in the design and execution of Central Park. With stops at Strawberry Fields, Cherry Hill, Bow Bridge, the Lake’s Boat Landings, the Mall, and Bethesda Terrace, this tour highlights symbolic and artistic features that may be easily overlooked even by daily park-goers.

Talking with Stone: The Noguchi Museum
Saturday, October 8, 11:00 am-12:30 pm

AIA New York
Sage and Coombe Architects will speak about the 15-year, multi-phase Noguchi Museum renovation, which included gallery renovations, a new bookstore and café, replacement of the building’s façades, creation of new program space, and building systems upgrades enabling the museum to remain open year-round.

AIANY and Classic Harbor's Around Manhattan Boat Tour circumnavigates the island.

AIANY and Classic Harbor’s Around Manhattan Boat Tour circumnavigates the island.

AIANY Around Manhattan Architecture Boat Tour
Wednesday, October 19, 3:00-5:45 pm

AIA New York / Classic Harbor Line
On this 2.75-hour cruise, you will circumnavigate the island of Manhattan, passing under all 18 bridges while taking in architecture, monuments, parks, and infrastructure.

Spencer Finch: Lost Man Creek
October 1, 2016 – March 11, 2018
Public Art Fund
Rather than growing naturally and of its own accord, Lost Man Creek, the undulating landscape populated by some 4,000 Dawn Redwoods, is a recreation. Artist Spencer Finch partnered with the Save the Redwoods League to identify a 790-acre section of the protected Redwood National Park in California. Significantly scaling down the topography and tree canopy heights, he reimagined this corner of the California forest for MetroTech at a 1:100 scale. While the original trees range from 98 to 380 feet – taller than the buildings that surround the plaza – the trees in the installation are just one to four feet in height.

The city is also filled with amazing things to do year round. Gato – Bobby Flay’s Mediterranean restaurant – is a lively place to meet for cocktails and small bites.* I love to cook for my family, and the Union Square Greenmarket is the perfect place to pick up fresh ingredients. I also go to High Street on Hudson for its freshly-baked bread.

New York is home to many specialty shops. Drama Book Shop for sheet music and theater books, and Uhuru Design for handcrafted furniture are two of my favorites.

*Full disclosure: Rockwell Group designed Gato.

David’s NYC

Cultural Institutions & Exhibitions 

The New Museum
235 Bowery, Manhattan


Bobby Flay's Gato, designed by the Rockwell Group.

Bobby Flay’s Gato, designed by the Rockwell Group.

324 Lafayette Street, Manhattan

High Street on Hudson
637 Hudson Street, Manhattan


74 Franklin Street, Manhattan

Union Square Greenmarket
Union Square Park, Manhattan

Drama Book Shop
250 West 40th Street, Manhattan

David Rockwell, FAIA, is the founder and President of Rockwell Group, an award-winning, cross-disciplinary architecture and design practice based in New York City with satellite offices in Madrid and Shanghai. For over 30 years, the firm has crafted a unique narrative for each project through the intersection of theater and architecture. Projects include Nobu restaurants and hotels worldwide; The New York EDITION; NeueHouse (New York, Los Angeles, and London); the TED Theater (Vancouver, BC); Chefs Club (New York); W Hotels worldwide; the Imagination Playground initiative; 15 Hudson Yards and The Shed in collaboration with Diller Scofidio + Renfro; the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center at Lincoln Center; and set designs for FalsettosShe Loves MeKinky Boots, and Hairspray. From surface and floor coverings for Maya Romanoff, Shaw Hospitality Group, The Rug Company, and Jim Thompson, to lighting for Rich Brilliant Willing, and furniture for Stellar Works and Knoll, the firm celebrates product design as a natural extension of its immersive environments. David is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.