New York's Skyline: Architecture of the City

Build your knowledge about New York City’s iconic architecture — from the sprawling underground to the soaring skyline — and contemporary urban design.


This course explores the unique architecture and urban texture that makes New York City one of the world’s most distinctive and iconic cities. Starting underground with the subway system, students will learn about the necessary infrastructure that allows for a dense city of skyscrapers to function.


Students will visit monuments of world architecture, ranging from archetypal buildings, such as the Art Deco Chrysler Building and Empire State Building, to more recent triumphs, such as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim Museum and Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum of American Art. Students will learn about New York’s incredible feats of engineering, such as the Brooklyn Bridge and Grand Central Terminal, which connect the five boroughs of New York to the greater Tri-State region. Students will examine important works of landscape architecture from Central Park to the High Line that help make the urban city livable, as well as public sculpture and design, and the debates that have surrounded such works.


Site Visits:
Visits will include walking tours of various areas and districts of New York as well as museums documenting the architecture and urban history of the city. Students will tour individual buildings, monuments, parks, and public spaces.


Site visits may include:

  • The Empire State Building
  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  • The Whitney Museum of American Art
  • A walking tour of midtown Manhattan, including the Chrysler Building and the Seagram Building
  • The Museum of the City of New York
  • The New York Transit Museum
  • Terraform ONE Studios
  • Central Park
  • Brooklyn Bridge
  • Grand Central Terminal
  • The High Line


Guest Speakers and Lecturers:
Students will hear firsthand about the urban history of New York from architectural historians, city planners, and museum professionals.


Guest speakers may include:

  • Architects
  • Architectural historians
  • Urban planners
  • Museum curators


Materials Fee: $250


Please note: This information is subject to change at any time at the discretion of Sotheby’s Institute of Art-New York.

Term Dates

Term dates and course availability depend heavily on instructors’ schedules.

  • Term 2 Grades 10 - 12 June 23 to July 5

This summer, we’re offering 16 unique courses for Summer Institute students. Explore the full summer schedule to learn more about course dates and grade eligibility.

View Summer Schedule

What is an Intensive?

Intensives immerse students in a single subject area for the entire two-week Institute term, with the goal of cultivating comprehensive knowledge of that discipline. This thorough approach to learning enables students to develop deeper insights about the field by closely investigating its inner workings.

Course Highlights

Summer Institute enables students to dive deep into a course of study, sharpening skills for their academic and professional careers. Each course is carefully designed to suit student interests and encourage intellectual curiosity.

  • 1

    The course will include walking tours and visits to major monuments of New York City architecture — such as the top of the Empire State Building — as well as the museums that document the architectural and urban history of the city.

  • 2

    Students will hear firsthand about the architecture and urban development of this cultural capital from leading architectural historians, architects, and other experts.

  • 3

    The course is ideal for students who love both architecture and urban history and who may wish to pursue a career in either of these fields. Students will learn what led to New York becoming the largest city in the United States and one of the richest cities in architecture, landscape architecture, and public art.

  • 4

    Students will examine architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning, and develop an understanding of the roles played by architects, policy makers, clients, and artists in the formation of the City of New York.

Summer Institute Faculty

Our instructors are award-winning Sotheby's Institute faculty, recognized thought leaders and professional experts in the art world. Each faculty member structures their course around real-time conversations defining their professions and helps students master the unique forces at play in the art world.

Summer Institute Faculty

Experience New York

  • New York City New York City

    With New York City as their campus, students will have access to all the city has to offer, attending field trips, site visits and special events.

  • Speaker Series Speaker Series

    Summer Institute students have unique opportunities to connect with the most accomplished artists and art professionals working today.

  • Housing Housing

    Summer Institute students have the option of living on campus in the university dormitories or commuting to class from their local residence.

  • Dining Dining

    University cafeteria-style dining halls serve a wide variety of healthy alternatives for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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