5 Must-See Fall Architecture Shows in New York, From Pre-Urban Farms to Futuristic Pipe Dreams

Detail of Jason Crum's "Project for a Painted Wall, New York City, New York. Perspective." (1969), part of "9 + 1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design" at MoMA
(Courtesy The Museum of Modern Art, New York)

Summer is coming to a close, and with the crisp autumn air comes that renewed sense of vigor that has become practically circadian after years of back-to-school mania. This season’s architecture exhibitions are reflective of this compulsion, asking viewers to contemplate public space anew as the Occupy movement approaches its one-year anniversary and to critically examine the city’s past as a way of shaping its future. Here are five exhibitions in New York City that remind us that architecture and urbanism don’t happen in a vacuum.

“9 + 1 Ways of Being Political: 50 Years of Political Stances in Architecture and Urban Design” at The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53rd Street, September 12, 2012-March 25, 2013

Over 100 works in various media will be on display in this exhibition exploring the political potential of architecture within the last 50 years. Organized by MoMA’s recently appointed contemporary architecture curator Pedro Gadanho and curatorial assistant Margot Weller, “9 + 1 Ways” traces the evolution of avant-garde architecture, from its politically charged nascent stages in the early 20th century to its compromised forms in the face of economic realities, all the way to contemporary architecture’s attempted return to social relevance today. The exhibition includes two special performances by André Jaque Arquitectos at MoMA PS1 on September 16 and 23.

Beyond Zuccotti Park: Exhibition as Occupation” at Center for Architecture, 536 Laguardia Place, September 6-September 21

Coinciding with the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, “Beyond Zucotti Park” centers around the launch of a new book of the same name and presents insights on improving the design and use of public space from its contributing authors, an impressive roster of architects, critics, and policy makers including Rick Bell, Michael Kimmelman, Jonathan Marvel, and Janette Sadik-Khan.

“From Farm to City: Staten Island 1661 – 2012” at the Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, September 13-January 21, 2013

Using rare maps, prints, photographs, documents, and artifacts from the Museum of the City of New York and institutions and private collections across the country, “From Farm to City” tells the story of Staten Island’s changing roles and how the other island borough contributed to the development of New York City. The exhibition reveals Staten Island's history as farmland, resort, suburb, and city, culminating in a focus on current issues of zoning and urban planning, with particular attention paid to the Fresh Kills Park and West Shore redevelopment projects.

“Imagining the LowLine” at Essex Market Building D, an abandoned warehouse just above the proposed Delancey Underground park, Broome and Essex streets, September 15-September 27

Riding on the momentum of its record-setting Kickstarter campaign, the LowLine is organizing a public exhibition to showcase the solar technology that co-founders James Ramsey and Dan Barasch believe will bring naturally lit green space underground and help turn an abandoned subterranean trolley terminal into a thriving public park. The exhibition includes a program of neighborhood events to illustrate the potential benefits of the LowLine to the community, and it shares space with a partner exhibition by Columbia University and AUDI research initiative Experiments in Motion, which will have on display a 1:1500-scale replica of Manhattan’s mobility infrastructure mapping every subway station on the island.

“Past Futures, Present, Futures” at Storefront for Art and Architecture, 97 Kenmare Street, September 25-November 17

The first show of Storefront for Art and Architecture’s fall 2012 exhibition season examines 101 unrealized proposals for New York City in conjunction with 101 reenactments of the proposals as interpreted by contemporary artists, architects, writers, and policy makers. By revisiting projects such as Buckminster Fuller’s “Dome Over Manhattan” (1960) and Haus Rucker Co.’s “Palmtree Island” (1971), the exhibition asks invited artists and viewers to unpack the social contexts that produced these schemes and look at them critically to imagine alternative visions for the city’s future.

To see images from this fall's architecture exhibitions, click the slide show.