VAI Announces Van Alen Books

Van Alen Institute: Projects in Public Architecture is pleased to announce the launch of Van Alen Books, a new architecture and design bookstore and public reading room located at Van Alen Institute’s headquarters at 30 West 22nd Street in Manhattan’s Flatiron District. Opening on April 25, 2011, this highly visible storefront space is New York City’s only book emporium and gathering place devoted singularly to architecture and design publications.

Van Alen Books is motivated by an urgent need for spaces where architecture books can be discovered and discussed. Especially in New York—with its large and active population of architects, designers, educators, students, urban advocates, and critics—the lack of a single space devoted to public discourse about architecture and design publications has been keenly felt in all corners of the design community, notably since the closure of Urban Center Books in early 2010. Continuing the legacy of this landmark bookstore, Van Alen Books has made available its remaining stock, while collaborating with supportive publishers to offer a selection of new and noteworthy titles. Van Alen Institute brings expertise and a broad network to the creation of this missing focal point for design professions and the greater public, an effort in keeping with the Institute’s longstanding mission to champion projects in public architecture.

An intense program of events marks Van Alen Books as the newest initiative of Van Alen’s ground-floor project space devoted to architectural and urban experimentation. Beyond its role as a destination bookstore, this dynamic space offers a place where books are read and debated through a curatorial program exploring the past and future of architectural publishing. Events include debates, discussions, and storytelling sessions with an international cast of architects, critics, scholars, and others. As a laboratory for new publishing models, Van Alen Books will also host a publishing summit in 2012 exploring what form content will take in the twenty-first century.

The bookstore and its public programs are showcased in a new space designed by the architectural firm LOT-EK. Inviting the public to linger and browse, the store features a 14-foot-tall seating element crafted from a stack of 70 recycled doors, which create an amphitheater overlooking 22nd Street through glazed storefront windows. Sourced from Build It Green! NYC, a nonprofit supplier of salvaged building materials, the doors form a triangular platform evoking the steps of Times Square’s TKTS booth, an iconic project originated through Van Alen Institute’s 1999 design competition.

Van Alen Books is made possible through seed funding from Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund, as well as the supportive guidance of Joan K. Davidson and Margot Wellington. The project has also received support from VAI’s Van Alen Circle members.

Additional project supporters include LOT-EK and Robert Silman Associates for pro-bono architectural and engineering services, and United Hoisting for materials donations.

Van Alen Books gratefully acknowledges the enthusiastic support of publishing partners AA PublicationsActar, Anyone Corporation, Bedford Press, Birkhaüser, Chronicle, GSAPP Books, Harvard University Press, Lars Müller Publishers, M.I.T. Press, Monacelli, Oro Editions, Prestel Publishing, Princeton Architectural Press, Rizzoli, Routledge, W.W. Norton, Yale University Press, D.A.P., and the Municipal Art Society’s Urban Center Books.

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