Permanent exhibition

Building Citizens

Collection 1970s–Present
11 West 53rd Street, New York City NY 10019 Map
Sat–Thu 10:30 am–5:30 pm, Fri 10:30 am–8 pm

Is it possible to design a house, a neighborhood, or even an entire nation that creates a sense of belonging for all its inhabitants? From the design of a single-family home to the development of large-scale public housing, architects have long sought to address the needs of diverse sets of individuals—generating new ideas about the ways spaces are occupied, how buildings are visualized, and the materials with which they are fabricated.

Architecture is one way of expressing complex—and at times controversial—civic values. During the societal upheavals of the 1960s, architects and urban planners had a profound role in shaping how populations lived. Yet friction between architects’ visions and their clients’ needs at times resulted in the construction of buildings that, while initially critically acclaimed, ultimately failed. Spanning the 1970s to the present, the works in this gallery consider architecture’s capacity to give shape to the social, political, and cultural dimensions of our communities and the worlds they inhabit.