For twenty years local nonprofit Northwest Film Forum (NWFF) has provoked dialogue about architecture and placemaking through its annual ByDesign Festival, curated by Design in Public. Promoted as a “cross-cultural exploration of people, structures, and ideas at the intersection of design and the moving image,” over the years the festival has brought filmmakers and designers from across the world to Seattle to showcase their work and participate in workshops and panel discussions.

This year NWFF is closing its theater and event space temporarily due COVID-19 concerns, but the festival will stream online; individual film viewings are priced on a $0-25 sliding scale, with full festival passes also available for purchase. ByDesign kicked off this Wednesday and continues through Sunday, March 22nd. To watch online, simply purchase a ticket for the film of your choice or full festival pass, which is valid for all online screenings. (Yes, you do need to pay attention to the time of the screenings; ticket holders will receive a code that will allow them to log into the film screening during the first thirty minutes of showtime.)

As part of last year’s ByDesign Festival I had the pleasure of watching, Brasilia: Life After Design, a documentary which delves into what it is like to live in Brazil’s controversial capital, a city that was both dreamt up and rigidly planned by architect Oscar Niemeyer and urbanist Luis Costa, whose scheme to create an “urban plan and structures that would attempt to micromanage the daily activity of human life” resulted in stark social divisions that linger in Brasilia to this day.

The 2020 ByDesign includes several films that will pique the interest of readers of The Urbanist. I’m personally looking forward to watching The Maze, a documentary centered on the communities that surround the MacArthur Maze, a massive freeway interchange in Oakland, CA, and Livingston: The Man and the Method, which features a glimpse into the home of Argentinian architect Rodolfo Livingston, whose designs are anchored in a belief that architecture can be a tool for change.

BYDESIGN FESTIVAL CALENDAR OF VIRTUAL EVENTS 

FRIDAY, MAR. 20

SATURDAY, MAR. 21

SUNDAY, MAR. 22

We hope you loved this article. If so, please consider subscribing or donating. The Urbanist is a non-profit that depends on donations from readers like you.

Natalie Bicknell is Senior Reporter at The Urbanist. She is a writer and community college instructor who lives in the Central District with her husband and two dogs. In her research and writing, she is always on the lookout for better ways of creating sustainable, diverse, and vibrant cities. Email her at natalie [at] theurbanist [dot] org.