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Design Philadelphia 2017: 8 must-see sites and events

From architecture tours to open houses

MERGE is one ongoing art installation to check out during Design Philadelphia 2017.
Rendering courtesy of Design Philadelphia

Design Philadelphia 2017 officially kicks off October 4, and the list of events for the next 10 days is, like last year, staggering. From October 5 to October 14, there will be more than 130 events celebrating the Center/Architecture + Design’s annual public festival, including architecture tours of both new and old buildings, countless panel discussions on design, as well as art installations all around the city.

So how can you possibly decide what to see and do? Use our list below as a starting point: We've picked eight must-see sites and events to check out during the 10-day-long design extravaganza, some of which require reservations and a lot of which are free. They're listed in order of date. You can find the full list of events on Design Philadelphia's website.

1. MERGE art installation

This art installation featuring two glass walls can be found all throughout the festival at Lubert Plaza at 1001 Locust Street. Created by students from the Finishing Trades Institutes and Jefferson University, MERGE is meant to symbolize the merger of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University—the greatest transparency, views, and reflections can be seen where the two glass walls overlap.

2. Neighborhood Design Crawls

A whole bunch of Philly neighborhoods are hosting art crawls during Design Philadelphia. Old City’s will take place on October 6 during First Friday, with lots of galleries and showrooms like bulthaup and LEMA opening their doors for the night. Center City, West Philly, Fairmount/Brewerytown, and Fishtown will also host design crawls throughout the festival.

3. Kahn-Struct

As part of the Fabric Workshop and Museum’s Louis Kahn exhibition, on Saturday, October 7 it will be hosting Kahn-Struct from 1 to 3 p.m. This family-friendly event will let folks channel their inner Kahn as they cut and paste windows, gates, and doorways onto structures to build a collaborative city. You’ll be able to take home screen prints of your work.

4. Build your own wood furniture

Why spend a fortune on a new coffee table when you can make one yourself? On October 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. local furniture designer Michelle Lipson will host a talk and a hands-on woodworking workshop that will teach you the ins and outs of building a table. You’ll work with a group, and whosever name gets drawn out of a hat will be able to take the table home. There’s a second talk and session from 2 to 4 p.m.

5. Front Street Floral Crawl

From Monday, October 9 through Wednesday, October 11, businesses up and down Front Street and Frankford Avenue will be adorned with large living floral-installations created by local florists. You can stroll at your own pace, or head to Evil Genius Beer Company on Monday, October 9 for a free guided tour from 5 to 7 p.m.

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6. Tour the new Roberts Center For Pediatric Research CHOP Tower

On Tuesday, October 10 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., Ballinger will lead a free guided tour of the recently completed CHOP tower on the Schuylkill River, providing a look at the outdoor public spaces and inside the 21-story tower.

7. Tyler Hays: The Art of Making Everything

Local designer Tyler Hays, who owns the American furniture design company BDDW, will speak about his work during a presentation at the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Wednesday, October 11 at 6 p.m. Post-talk, there will be a treasure hunt in the museum, where some of Hays’ pieces will be temporarily positioned among the 17th and 18th century decorative arts galleries. Free.

via Wikimedia Commons

8. Hatfield House Open House

One of the historic homes in Fairmount Park, the Hatfield House will open its doors for an open house on Wednesday, October 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be interactive art installations throughout inspired by the history and culture of the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood, too.