Urban Visions Film Series


The Urban Visions Film Series presents a wide range of ideas on the future of American cities, from newly released short films from Spirit of Space to sneak previews to the Saving the City documentary series.

Urban Visions Film Series Library 


The New Beautiful

With our world in constant flux, many of our have been re-thinking our priorities. What do we really want and what so we really need? Beautifully designed places have the power to connect us, move us, inspire us and sustain us. We don’t need a new normal – we need a New Beautiful.


Brooklyn Bridge Park

MMVA’s Brooklyn Bridge Park transforms this stretch of post-industrial waterfront into a thriving 85-acre civic landscape. The park mediates a system of new and refurbished connections between the city and the river, becoming a vital urban threshold that provides space for a wide variety of activities and programming, all with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. Careful attention to the site’s rich history and its extraordinary built and natural features ensures that this radical transformation creates an urban destination that is dynamic and engaging for generations to come.


Beloit College Powerhouse

Why is it that we don’t talk more about reuse? For a long time, design culture has been about making new things and your creativity is based on what you can come up with out of the blue sky. Architects need to be advocates for reuse, especially the most carbon-intensive elements of an old building.


The Hive at the National Building Museum

Presented as part of the National Building Museum’s 2017 Summer Block Party, Hive creates an exciting, interactive space buzzing with activity and sound. Soaring above the Museum’s Great Hall, Hive is built entirely of wound paper tubes, a construction material that is lightweight, recyclable, and renewable. The tubes are stacked and interlocked to create three interconnected domed chambers. Each chamber balances structural forces and supports its own weight, while attaining a height that enables a unique acoustic signature. The tubes feature a luminous silver exterior and vivid magenta interior, offering a visual contrast with the Museum’s historic nineteenth-century interior and colossal Corinthian columns.


The Reach

Spirit of Space wanted to document the REACH for history to demonstrate our conviction in the impact of architectural experience. Real evidence that builds understanding for humanity is what we at Spirit of Space are trying to do through film. To experience the architecture through the visitor point of view, the directors captured two extreme conditions: the opening weekend celebrations and a weekday months later to show the range of experiences at the new complex. The weekday performances attracted cyclists to pause and see a performance, groups of people catching a preview before a performance inside the Kennedy Center, and children playing on the lawn. 


Drawing Fields at the Ragdale Ring

At a moment when physical gathering is limited by the COVID pandemic, Outpost Office’s practice was fortunate to take part in a project that brings a small arts community together in spite of restrictions on site access, audience participation and finances. 


KCRW and the Santa Monica College of Design

Clive Wilkinson states, “By viewing this film, our team was able to really study and hear the voices of the users following completion, and compare this to what we learned in those earliest conversations. These interviews confirmed our belief that the value of design is not found in palatial architecture but in a creative interpretation of real world needs using flexible architectural solutions.” 


The Lawn

Lawn is a state of mind. A very warm one we love returning to no matter what season. For the National Building Museum the LAB at Rockwell made a vast, sloping green space dotted with clusters of communal lounging areas. The sound environment helps to define spaces with stories from 20 prominent actors, designers, and activists immersing visitors into the feeling of summer. “To me that’s what a lawn does. It just gives you the opportunity to think.” – Whoopi Goldberg.


The Master and Form

The Master and Form is on view at the 2019 Whitney Biennial. This live performance and series of sculptural pieces explore themes of mastery and discipline within the culture of Ballet. By foregrounding labor and physical exertion in both presence and absence, Fernandez attempts to queer the traditionally illusionistic and hierarchically idealized spaces of Ballet. Film made possible through The Graham Foundation Chicago.


Hunters Point South Waterfront Park

The site is waterfront and city, gateway and sanctuary, blank slate and pentimento. These readings suggest an approach to the landscape that enhances what is unique about the site, while framing a new multi-layered identity as a recreational and cultural destination. New open spaces with connections to the surrounding communities provide access to the water’s edge and spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline. The design incorporates active and passive recreation and a broad array of sustainable initiatives, transforming Hunter’s Point South into a new cultural and ecological paradigm.


DeYoung Museum

Herzog & de Meuron developed the idea of a variably perforated screen exterior which would mirror the green foliage and forestry of the surrounding Golden Gate Park, San Francisco’s central park. The architects worked with Zahner whose engineers and software specialists developed a system which would allow unique perforation and patterned dimples, variably sized and placed throughout the exterior. This included near 8000 unique facade panels — the collective whole which formed patterns of light as seen through trees. “Craftsmanship in large buildings is supposed to be dead, killed by Modernist ideology and cost considerations. What this building says is that maybe craftsmanship has a high-tech future after all.” Time Magazine


Barclays Center

With its careful place-making, cutting-edge construction, and connection with the spirit of Brooklyn, the Barclays Center sets a new standard for what an urban arena can be.


Art in the City

With its public art, Chicago holds itself to the highest standard by thoughtfully selecting artists that sensitively understand the magnitude and impact of their work. Whether it’s Picasso’s sculpture for  Daley Plaza, or in Millennium Park, Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate or Jaume Plensa’s Crown Fountain, each piece, in its own way, is an expression of Chicago. The success of a public work of art is measured not merely by aesthetics, but rather, by its magnetic qualities that inspire interaction.  The art is a reflection of the City, the art becomes a part of the City, the art is instrumental in making the City. This film expresses the vitality and vibrancy that public art can bring to the urban environment by experientially including the viewer in the making of place.


Color(ed) Theory

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Harold’s Chicken Shack. Pink Oil. Ultrasheen. To artist and architect Amanda Williams these everyday products and businesses are potent signifiers of Black Chicago. She sees their unnatural hues as a very real part of collective ‘psychic memory’. By painting eight abandoned houses in these charged tones for her body of work titled Color(ed) Theory, Williams – a native of Chicago’s South Side – sought to pose open questions rather than posit solutions to urban decay. ‘I want people to contemplate what these structures are worth to them, and whether they like or dislike my intervention,’ she says. ‘If you think it’s pretty, are you willing to fight for it? Or are you equally motivated by disgust? There’s no prescribed response.’ Williams chose the most anonymous houses marked for demolition as her canvases, and there were a lot to pick from. When she began scouting in mid-2013, Chicago had an estimated 33,000 vacant houses. Today, in the poorest neighborhoods, as many as one in six houses are vacant, and an untold number of lots have been cleared of structures.


Sliced Porosity Block

In the center of Chengdu, China, at the intersection of the first Ring Road and Ren Ming Nam Road, the Sliced Porosity Block forms large public plazas with a hybrid of different functions. Creating a metropolitan public space instead of object-icon.


Saving the City/Series Introduction

Love cities? America has always had a love-hate relationship with cities — over 80% of us live in urban areas, a figure expected to reach 90% by 2050. Saving the City is a multi-part documentary series with related educational material asking and answering how can we make cities our better places for all? We are releasing short videos on our website and other platforms while the first two 60 minute episodes are in production. After watching Saving the City, you’ll never look at cities the same way again!


Where Did Redevelopment Get it Right?/Philadelphia

Explore how Philadelphia’s pioneering Yorktown neighborhood promoted Black home ownership in the heart of the city.


How Can Cities Preserve Cultural Continuity Despite Neighborhood Change /Pittsburgh

Join us as we learn about famed playwright August Wilson and explore efforts to restore his boyhood home in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, a storied community once numbering 55,000, now down to only about 9,000


The Promise and Perils of Smart Cities/San Diego

How did the simple streetlight become an instrument of surveillance? Under the label of “Smart Cities” – meaning Big Data – cities can now watch, track and identify ordinary people in ways George Orwell could never imagine.


The Future of the Urban Workplace/San Francisco

Empty downtowns. But is this a permanent situation? As work from home extends its stay, how many of these offices, hotels, stores, restaurants and entertainment venues will be re-occupied and when?


School Daze/San Francisco vs Vancouver

How did Vancouver and San Francisco approach building huge new communities on former railyards? Like many cities, Vancouver and San Francisco have seen new neighborhoods replace old railyards on valuable land near their downtowns — Concord Pacific Place in Vancouver and Mission Bay in San Francisco. One of these cities has focused on Community with a capital “C” while the other is driven by Development with a capital “D.”


The High Line/New York

What magical forces made the High Line happen? Meet Joshua David and Robert Hammond. Dubbed “neighborhood nobodies” by the New York Times because they were just ordinary citizens with no background in planning or politics, the dynamic duo’s vision and perseverance made the dream of a remade High Line a reality.


Flour Power/Minneapolis

Love cities? America has always had a love-hate relationship with cities — over 80% of us live in urban areas, a figure expected to reach 90% by 2050. Saving the City is a multi-part documentary series with related educational material asking and answering how can we make cities our better places for all? We are releasing short videos on our website and other platforms while the first two 60 minute episodes are in production. After watching Saving the City, you’ll never look at cities the same way again!