Design buffs—aren’t we all?—in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Denver can now hear about the cities’ notable buildings straight from the architects who know them best. The AIA is collaborating with Google’s internal startup Niantic Labs as an audio content partner for its free Field Trip app for iPhone and Android devices. Here in the district, ARCHITECT’s neck of the woods, users with the app can learn about the U.S. Capitol Building from the mouth of Steven Ayers, FAIA, the Architect of the Capitol; gain insight on the National Building Museum from chief curator Martin Moeller, Assoc. AIA; and hear about the design behind the National WWII Memorial from Friedrich St. Florian, FAIA.

“This app brings them closer to the underlying reasons that shaped a project, voicing the architect's insights into its ultimate look and feel,” said AIA’s CEO Robert Ivy, FAIA, in a Sept. 9 press release. “And hearing from the actual designer not only provides unique historical context to projects, but also helps bring buildings and spaces to life.”

Field Trip purports to be a digital tour guide for cities around the world. When users are near a point of interest, the app sends them a notification via their smartphone. Users can also turn off automatic alerts and browse nearby attractions in a map or list format on demand. A Bluetooth or headset connection gives users the opportunity to hear an audio description of what they’re seeing, which is what AIA's feature permits. Travelers can also customize the types of attractions that appear in their Field Trip feed, as well as the cultural and entertainment sites from which app sources its information—although the current process of individually selecting or deselecting each source is tedious.

Arcadia Publishing, which specializes in local history publications, for example, provides leads in the category of historic places and events, while Thrillist and Zagat provide dining options. In addition to drawing from the AIA, Field Trip chooses its architectural sights and landmarks from Architonic, Dezeen, and Open Buildings, among others.

To date, the AIA has provided landmark information and audio commentary on 164 projects, buildings, and landmarks in the four cities: 56 in New York, 32 in Los Angeles, 53 in D.C., and 23 in Denver.