David Van der Leer
Tuesday, September 2, 2014

David Van der Leer
Executive Director
Van Alen Institute

Lecture: Monday, September 15, 2014
5:30pm - Lawrence J. Plym Auditorium, Temple Hoyne Buell Hall
Sponsored by the Illinois School of Architecture Annual Fund

Lecture Title: "Revisiting Behaviorology"

As executive director of Van Alen Institute, David van der Leer combines his experience as a museum curator with his leadership in developing interdisciplinary public programming to steer the historic New York-based design organization into its next chapter. With a commitment to breaking new intellectual ground and fostering intelligent debate about the role of contemporary architecture and design in civic life, David has guided the expansion of Van Alen’s competitions, research, and public programs and embarked on multi-year investigations that rigorously investigate the social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow.

David’s imaginative approach to programming shapes Van Alen Institute’s array of public projects, which currently include multidisciplinary design competitions with the National Park Service and the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, festival-style public events across New York City, an ongoing research effort into the archives of the Institute’s 120-year history, and the multi-year inquiry Elsewhere: Escape and the Urban Landscape. The Institute continues to build its public presence locally and around the world: It recently launched a new International Council of design leaders, and broke ground on a new street-level office and public venue in New York’s busy Flatiron District.

A leading voice in the architecture and design community for many years, David was previously associate curator of architecture and urban studies at the Guggenheim Museum, and curator of the BMW Guggenheim Lab. In this role, he oversaw an ambitious slate of exhibitions for the museum’s iconic Fifth Avenue address and developed compelling participatory experiences around the city’s five boroughs. Through the BMW Guggenheim Lab, David took the museum’s offerings outside of its traditional uptown home to showcase profound effect even temporary interventions into a cityscape can have and creating links between major metropolises like Mumbai and Shenzhen. While at the Guggenheim he curated stillspotting nyc, a two-year multidisciplinary project that identified “stillspots” in the cacophony of New York City and invited architects, artists, designers, composers, and philosophers to create public tours, events, and installations.

David was one of the three curators of Spontaneous Interventions, the official U.S. presentation for the American Pavilion at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. The installation explored themes of how informal design can help solve difficult urban questions, and received the United States’ first ever honorable mention at the Biennale. For the Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture of 2011, he curated And Then It Became a City: Six Cities Under 60. David established his publishing credentials while working on publications for 010 Publishers and Rem Koolhaas’s OMA in Rotterdam, and Stephen Holl Architects in New York.

He plays an active part in the debates and developments in the design world through his ongoing role as a panelist and judge for architecture competitions and his contributions to publications as varied as Domus, Mark, The Architect's Newspaper, and PIN-UP.