Mud Frontier: Architecture at the Borderlands; Architecture & Design Film Festival
Mud Frontier: Architecture at the Borderlands; Courtesy of National Building Museum

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Architecture & Design Film Festival

For those of us who aren’t architect- or engineer-minded, it’s easy to overlook how much of our lives revolve around the built environment. But human-made structures touch every aspect of daily life—the buildings we live in, the distribution systems for our utilities, the roads and bridges we drive on, the public transit systems we travel on, the playgrounds we take our kids to—you get the idea. It’s in this vein that the Architecture & Design Film Festival offers something of interest to everyone, not just architects, designers, and engineers. It’s also why the National Building Museum—tasked with telling a national story about the built environment and its impacts—continues to partner with the largest architecture and design film fest in the world for ADFF:DC. The festival, which hosts events throughout North America, was postponed in January due to the omicron wave of the pandemic. It returns to the museum March 24 for three days of film screenings, discussions, panels, and more. “Our focus is to offer engaging, immersive programming that inspires and educates about the world we design and build,” Aileen Fuchs, NBM’s executive director, said in a press release. “This cultural partnership offers extraordinary films that spotlight innovation, leadership, and critical community issues, like design and its impact on sustainability and social equity.” This year’s ADFF:DC screens 12 feature-length films from around the world as well as a collection of shorts. The opening night gala promises a little glitz and a lot of design with the local premiere of Mau, a documentary on the Canadian designer and innovator Bruce Mau, who rose to fame in the mid-’90s for designing and co-authoring S,M,L,XL with Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Mau has also collaborated with world leaders, global brands such as Adidas and Netflix, and was asked to help rethink a 1,000-year plan for Islam’s holy site, Mecca. Mau will be in attendance for a Q&A following the screening. Other eye-catching films include From Earth to Sky, which follows the work of seven Indigenous designers; Mud Frontier: Architecture at the Borderlands, which traces efforts to produce more ecologically friendly, energy efficient, and affordable construction; and a short film on Sarah Wigglesworth, a London-based architect who almost left the male-dominated industry before graduating school. Architecture & Design Film Festival:DC runs March 24 to 26 at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. Passes are $85, tickets to individual events run $5–$50. Masks required.