50 at 50

Co-curated with Thomas Mellins

This online exhibition celebrated the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s 50th anniversary. It comprised a specially commissioned film offering an overview of the Conservancy’s achievements; an illustrated timeline exploring New York City in the 1970s when the Conservancy was founded; and, bringing together texts and images, an interactive compendium of 50 of the organization’s most significant successes in preserving and protecting the architecture that helps make New York unique. A city-wide festival of lectures, concerts, and other events accompanied the online exhibition.

Mr. Albrecht worked with co-curator Thomas Mellins to conceive the exhibition’s structure and themes, select historic images, write text, collaborate with the web design team, and plan events.

Coverage in Architect magazine

Commissioned photographer (except where noted): Noël Sutherland
Branding web designer: SJI Associates

Gay Gatherings

Co-curated with Thomas Mellins

Gay Gatherings: Philip Johnson, David Whitney and the Modern Arts explored interactions at the Johnson-designed Glass House, among eight gay men who profoundly shaped 20th-century artistic culture: Johnson and his longtime partner, curator/collector David Whitney; composer John Cage; choreographer Merce Cunningham; ballet impresario Lincoln Kirstein; and artists Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol.

Coincident with the 50th anniversary of New York’s Stonewall Uprising in 1969, a watershed in the contemporary gay rights movement, Gay Gatherings underscored an essential element of the site’s history that has not been fully presented as part of its public interpretation. The exhibition highlighted the Glass House, completed 70 years ago in 1949, as a gathering place where these men’s work was collected, exhibited, and performed.

Gay Gatherings was presented in two buildings on the Glass House site. Da Monsta featured a specially created digital animation that visually showcased the relationships among the exhibition’s key figures, while the Painting Gallery displayed postcards, works of art, and photographs by David McCabe of Warhol’s visit to the Glass House in the mid-1960s.

Mr. Albrecht and Mr. Mellins conceived the idea of the show, selected all artifacts, co-authored exhibition text and the script of the digital animation, and worked with the design team.


“Much changed in the political and cultural landscape in the 20 years separating Mr. Johnson’s protected stone-walled enclave from the grass-roots events of Stonewall, Mr. Albrecht noted. The artistic contributions of gay men ‘were increasingly acknowledged within mainstream culture, particularly through the generation-bridging work of Andy Warhol,’ he said. Gay Gatherings is an intimate look at a handful of men who drove some of the more rarefied aspects of that transformation.” Alan Bruton, New York Times, May 9, 2019


Exhibition and graphic designer, including animation: Pure+Applied
Photographer: Robin Hill 

Elegance in the Sky

With some 75 buildings to his credit, Rosario Candela (1890 – 1953) played a major role in shaping the architectural legacy of 20th-century Manhattan—the distinctive “prewar” apartment buildings that define the cityscapes of streets like Park and Fifth Avenues and Sutton Place. Featuring photographs and furnishings, Elegance in the Sky explored Candela’s understated high rises that featured set-back terraces and neo-Georgian and Art Deco ornament to create the look of New York urbanism between the world wars.

Candela, an immigrant from Italy, came of age professionally in an era when the city’s 19th-century mansions and townhouses were being torn down and their residents adapting to apartment living. Working within a community of fellow architects, interior designers, and real estate developers (many of whom were Italian immigrants like himself), Candela met that demand by creating residential buildings that mixed single-story, duplex, and triplex units, all with spacious and graceful plans. Promoted with alluring marketing schemes, these structures established new standards of chic urban living for some of New York’s wealthiest citizens. Even today, almost a century after they were built, Candela’s buildings rank among the most prized in the city, and the phrase “designed by Rosario Candela” remains a real estate magnet.

Mr. Albrecht conceived the idea of the exhibition, developed the show’s themes, selected artifacts, wrote exhibition text, identified and worked with the design team.


Coverage in Architectural Digest, Daily Mail (UK), New York Post, and Wall Street Journal

“a small but insightful exhibition” [that] “cracks the code of some of the most aspirational apartment houses in New York City…” Julie V. Iovine, Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2018

“plenty of scholarship is in evidence, along with a clever presentation and a wealth of information about the building blocks of domestic comfort, which may be Candela’s greatest contribution to architecture.” Pilar Viladas, Introspective magazine, June 3, 2018


Exhibition designer: Peter Pennoyer Architects/Mark Herring, senior designer
Exhibition graphic designer: Tsang/Seymour
Wall frieze artist: James Boyd
Photographer: Brad Farwell

Doris Duke’s Shangri La

Co-curated with Thomas Mellins

Tour of 7 American cities from New York to Los Angeles and Honolulu 2012-2015

This traveling exhibition explored Doris Duke’s Shangri La, a five-acre estate overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Honolulu. Begun in the mid-1930s and developed over the course of more than fifty years, Shangri La seamlessly melds together modern architecture, tropical landscape, and art from throughout the Islamic world. Representing an approach that may be termed “inventive synthesis,” Shangri La mixes original and commissioned architectural elements, sometimes incorporating complete historic rooms that function as museum-quality period installations. Shangri La’s collections are equally diverse and encompass a broad time spectrum, from the pre-Islamic and mediaeval periods through the mid-20th century, as well as myriad media, styles, and techniques developed within the realm of the Islamic arts. The exhibition combined artifacts, newly commissioned and historic photographs, drawings, and ephemera, as well as works of five artists who have participated in Shangri La’s artists-in-residence program. Accompanied by a 216-page catalog.

Working with co-curator Thomas Mellins, Mr. Albrecht conceived the show’s themes and organization, identified its designer, selected all artifacts, and edited and contributed to the catalog.

> See exhibition catalog

Articles in Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and the New York Times

The exhibition “has been as been organized by Donald Albrecht and Tom Mellins, guest curators, who manage to convey the expansive glamour of Shangri La…and also take care to acknowledge the architects, dealers, art historians and craftsmen who realized Duke’s vision….The show is certainly one of the best places to see Islamic art in New York right now…”
Karen Rosenberg, New York Times, September 6, 2012

Co-curator: Thomas Mellins
Exhibition designer: Abbott Miller/Pentagram
Photographs: Tim Street-Porter

Authenticity and Innovation

Authenticity and Innovation explored preservation in contemporary New York City, a particularly relevant topic for a metropolis characterized by perennial change. Here old buildings have embodied cultural memory and moored a rapidly transforming cityscape as it has been continually reshaped by development pressures and evolving architectural tastes. How historical buildings have responded to the fast pace around them—how they can be both preserved and innovatively repurposed for our time—was the focus of this show. While New York City has about 1,500 individual landmarks and 139 historic districts that are overseen by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, this exhibition featured 28 projects in structures that are not officially designated as “significant.” They represented a range of strategies for the creative reuse of old buildings that took place outside of the official historic preservation mainstream, as resourceful developers, owners, tenants, and architects recognized the potential for housing new functions never imagined by their original builders. The renewal of these familiar structures acknowledged their valued role in communities as well as an appreciation of their time-honored materials and craftsmanship, their durability and generous scale. While demonstrating a variety of strategies for balancing change and preservation, these projects also represented the dynamic fusion of new and old that has long been the core of what is authentically New York City. The exhibition comprised newly commissioned photographs and models of featured projects as well as new interviews with architects and developers, among others.

Mr. Albrecht conceived the idea of the show, selected all artifacts, co-authored exhibition text, and worked with the design team.

Content researcher and exhibition text co-author: Eric Jackson-Forsberg 
New photography: Rob Stephenson
Exhibition designer: Perrin Studio
Photographer: Rob Stephenson

Saving Place

Co-curated with Andrew Dolkart and Seri Worden

Presented in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of New York’s landmarks law, Saving Place comprised an illustrated timeline outlining preservation in New York from the end of the 19th century to today, with a display of models, drawings, and building components exploring restoration and new architecture in historic districts. The exhibition underscored that the landmarks law culminated decades of advocacy by citizens, journalists, and civic groups who sought to preserve the city’s patrimony within the context of an ever-changing metropolis. The law gave the new agency the power to protect individual buildings andentire districts of architectural, historical, or cultural significance. A few years later, that power was expanded to include important interiors and scenic landscapes. Over the years, architects and developers have designed additions to historic buildings and built new structures of varying styles inhistoric districts. Everything about preservation has been, and is, a matter of comment and debate. Indeed, the definition of what a landmark is has evolved and is evolving, just as approaches to architectural modification and restoration have changed. Whatever the future holds, the past shows that the landmarks law has transformed the city, fostering a mix of old and new buildings that contributes to the vibrant urbanism that characterizes New York City for both its citizens and the millions of tourists who visit every year. Accompanied by a 208-page catalog, with photographs by Iwan Baan.

Working with co-curators Andrew Dolkart and Seri Worden, Mr. Albrecht developed the themes of the show, selected all artifacts, wrote exhibition text, and worked with the design team. He was responsible for selecting Iwan Baan, whose specially commissioned photographs are featured in the exhibition and catalog.

>See exhibition catalog


Coverage in the New York Daily News via Associated Press, untappedcities.com, hyperallergic.com, and live segment on New York 1

Sam Roberts, New York Times, April 23, 2015

“A revealing new exhibition”
Alex Traub, New York Review of Books Daily, July 12, 2015

Exhibition designer: Studio Joseph
Exhibition graphic designer: Studio NR2154
Catalog graphic design: Pentagram
Photographer: Thomas Loof

Making Room

Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers showcased innovative design solutions to better accommodate New York City’s changing, and sometimes surprising, demographics, including a rising number of single people. It featured a full-sized, flexibly furnished micro-studio apartment of just 325 square feet—a size prohibited in most areas of the city. Visitors saw models and drawings of housing designs by architectural teams commissioned in 2011 by Citizens Housing and Planning Council, in partnership with the Architectural League of New York. The exhibition also presented designs from the Bloomberg administration’s pilot competition to test new housing models, as well as examples set by other cities in the United States and around the world, including Seattle, Providence, Montreal, San Diego, and Tokyo.

Working with Citizens Housing and Planning Council’s policy analyst Sarah Watson and co-curator Andrea Renner, Mr. Albrecht conceived the exhibition’s themes and organization; identified its designer; and wrote exhibition wall text.


Extensive coverage in all media (print, radio, television and digital): New York Daily News; New York Post; New York Times; Associated Press national outlets; 1010 WINS; special NPR segment; WCBS; CNN; Fox 5; Brazilian, Chinese, Spanish, and Russian television; Curbed

Co-curator: Andrea Renner
Exhibition and graphic design: Pure+Applied
Lighting design: Anita Jorgensen
Photographs: John Halpern

House & Home

Co-curated with Thomas Mellins.

House & Home was a tour through the varied and rich history of residential architecture in America. The exhibition was a multilayered display of photographs, objects, models, and films that reveals American domestic life over four centuries. The exhibition explored changes in architecture, building construction, appliances, financing, community building, and the myriad ways that American homes have expressed both personal and national identity.

The project was launched and partially funded with National Endowment for the Humanities grants written by Mr. Albrecht and Mr. Mellins. They later worked with museum staff to select the exhibition’s artifacts and media presentations and to complete exhibition text.

Voted one of the 10 best exhibitions of the year by the Washington Post.


“In photographs, films, models, timelines and nearly 200 artifacts (including a pink flamingo lawn ornament, a tortilla press, an early Apple home computer and a vibrator from the 1920s), all spread among six galleries, the show gamely asks some of the big questions….”
Penelope Green, New York Times, May 2, 2012

Co-curators: Thomas Mellins with Sarah Leavitt
Exhibition Design: Ralph Appelbaum and Associates
Photographs courtesy National Building Museum

Fentress Airports

Now Boarding: Fentress + The Architecture of Flight explored the work of Denver-based architect Curt Fentress, who emerged as one of the world’s leading airport architects with the completion of the terminal complex for Denver International Airport in 1995. Since then, he and his firm have designed airports in the United States and Asia that exemplify the most innovative ideas in architectural design, passenger experience, and regional planning. To provide context to the architect’s work, the exhibition included a timeline of airport and airplane history, artifacts exploring air travel in popular culture, a specially commissioned media installation about air travel today, and digital speculations on the airport of the future. Accompanied by a 144-page catalog.

Mr. Albrecht developed the idea of the show, identified media artist Ben Rubin, selected all the artifacts, and wrote exhibition text and a catalog essay.

> See exhibition catalog

“The exhibit is tight, informative and easy to digest with photos, video and light text.”
Ray Mark Rinaldi, Denver Post, July 29, 2012

Associate curators: Darrin Alfred and Peter Christensen
Exhibition designer: Ben Griswold/Spatial Poetics
Exhibition graphics designer: Evan Cotgageorge/McGinty
Installation photography by the Denver Art Museum

American Style

Co-curated with Thomas Mellins.

Throughout American history, no style has proven more enduring than the Colonial Revival. Powerfully connecting the present to the past, the Colonial Revival remains popular today, retaining its status as the American style. Surprisingly, New York City—the ultimate modern metropolis, endlessly changing and rebuilding itself in a rush to the future—has long been home to some of the world’s great revivalist styles of architecture and design, including the Colonial Revival. New York architects created social clubs, town halls, and post offices in the style. Designers and manufacturers produced popular examples of Colonial Revival furnishings, often in collaboration with collectors, museum curators, department store executives, and publishers who disseminated the images that define the Colonial Revival style across the country. New Yorkers also advanced the Colonial Revival through elaborate events staged during moments of both celebration and adversity. Accompanied by a 224-page catalog.

Mr. Albrecht and his co-curator conceived and developed the idea of the show and catalog, selected all artifacts, wrote the exhibition text and catalog, and assembled the design team.

“One of the achievements of the illuminating exhibition
The American Style…is that it helps make the invisible visible.” Edward Rothstein, New York Times, June 13, 2011

“A small, unorthodox exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York…has a large agenda: to restore the reputation of a tradition discarded by modernists as irrelevant and expendable…” Ada Louise Huxtable, Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2011

Mr. Albrecht developed the concept and themes of the show, its organization, and he assembled its design team.

Co-curator: Thomas Mellins
Exhibition designer: Peter Pennoyer Architects
Exhibition graphics and catalog designer: Abbott Miller/Pentagram
Lighting designer: Anita Jorgensen
Installation photographer: Peter Mauss/Esto Photographics