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Smithsonian Associates - Entertaining, Informative, Eclectic, Insightful

This Overnight Tour is currently filled, but please call us to get on the Wait List by emailing

Design and Architecture in Focus: Iconic Sites and New Landmarks

3-Day Tour

Depart: Thursday, June 13, 2019 - 8:00 a.m.
Return: Saturday, June 15, 2019 - 10:30 p.m.
Code: 1NNDES
Grace Farms is a rural respite, cultural mecca, and site of the award-winning River building and barns (Photo: Dean Kaufman)

Explore the creative synergies between architecture and design as you spend three fascinating days in New York City and Connecticut on a tour led by architecture and urban studies specialist Bill Keene.

The Manhattan itinerary includes a docent-led walk along the High Line, the public park built on a 1930s elevated freight rail line that runs from the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street. Get an introduction to one of New York’s newest landmarks, the Vessel, opened in March in Hudson Yards. Designed by London’s Heatherwick Studio and comprised of 154 intricately interconnecting flights of stairs and 80 landings, the 150-foot-high structure is an interactive public art piece designed to be climbed.

Before leaving the city, board the yacht Manhattan for an early-morning private tour of New York harbor. Led by a member of the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the intimate narrated tour covers architectural and engineering landmarks from all eras of the city’s history, as well as current urban planning and environmental issues affecting urban waterfronts.

Begin your visit to Connecticut with a 3-course lunch in the Union League Café in New Haven, housed in a Beaux-Arts era city landmark. A walking tour of Yale’s campus offers a look at three centuries of architecture and urbanism, and focuses on great modern works by Louis Khan, Eero Saarinen, Philip Johnson, Cesar Pelli, and Paul Rudolph.

The Glass House, completed by Philip Johnson in 1949, is an icon of the international style, and the centerpiece of Johnson’s compound in New Canaan, Connecticut, that also houses a guest house, lake pavilion, painting and sculpture galleries, and other structures, all set in 49 beautiful acres. Participants visit the Glass House and other Johnson-designed buildings, and are guided on a 3/4-mile walking tour of the site’s pastoral landscape.

Discover a contemporary variation on the interplay of architecture and nature at Grace Farms, a recently opened cultural and community center in New Canaan. The sinuous, ribbon-like roof of its main structure was designed by the Japanese firm SANAA to echo the meandering curves of a river, and the striking building is set in 80-acre reserve that encompasses meadows, woods, wetlands, and ponds. Meet the center’s director and enjoy a tour of the site.

Accommodations in Manhattan are at the EVEN Hotel in Times Square South (near Hudson Yards), and the EVEN Hotel in Norwalk, Connecticut. The small chain’s 4-star boutique properties focus on modern design, healthy lifestyle, and green technology.  

Please note: This tour involves significant walking and standing at most sites.

World Art History Certificate elective: Earn 1/2 credit


  • Cost includes bus transportation, lodging, all activities, and the following meals: two breakfasts, three lunches (including a box lunch en route), and one dinner.
  • Tour departs by bus from the Mayflower Hotel, Connecticut Ave. and DeSales St., NW, with a stop at the Doubletree Hilton, 15101 Sweitzer Lane in Laurel, Maryland, at about 8:40 a.m.
  • Single-room supplement $205 (factored into the Single Room Member and Single Room Non-Member pricing).
  • Singles registering at the double-room rate are paired (on a nonsmoking basis) if possible, but must pay the single-room supplement otherwise.
  • Detailed information is mailed to registrants about four weeks prior to departure.
  • Registrants may want to consider purchasing trip insurance.
Other Connections

Thomas Heatherwick shares a look at the Vessel, and discusses how his design firm conceived the structure, which he calls “a platform for life.”

Get a view of The Rivers, the dramatic building that anchors Grace Farms, and learn more about the center’s activities in this video.

Detailed information for overnight tours
is mailed approximately FOUR WEEKS
prior to departure.