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18 October 2018


New York, NY—Van Alen Institute has named a new member to its Board of Trustees and appointed four new co-chairs for its International Council to continue to widen its circle of advisers with leaders across design and related disciplines.

“Van Alen’s greatest strength as a design organization is its inclusive approach,” said Executive Director David van der Leer. “We tend to attract high-caliber people who have multi-dimensional lives: fascinating backgrounds, complex skill sets, and unusual careers that intersect with the design and building fields.

“Each of the people we recognize here is a leader who reaches beyond their profession to connect with others and innovate,” said Board Chair Jared Della Valle, CEO and Founder of Alloy Development. “By bringing these people together, we strengthen our outlook as well as our network. I look forward to seeing the new and exciting ways that our newly extended leadership team can help Van Alen deliver on its mission.”

New Trustee Sarah Williams Goldhagen, Managing Director, Human-Centered Design at Turf Advisory brings an impressive background in research, writing, and speaking about the impact of the built environment on people’s lives. The former professor, prizewinning critic, and path-breaking author said, “Two of Van Alen’s thematic foci–sustainability and behavior and the environment–are both are urgent social and architectural needs. So I’m joining Van Alen’s Board of Directors for a lot of reasons. First, because I share in its mission. Second, because ever since I read Louis Kahn’s correspondence with the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York–Van Alen’s precursor–this wonderful institution has been orbiting my professional world. Third, because a forward-thinking, creative group of people are committed to it, too. And fourth, everyone says Van Alen throws the best parties.”

New Co-Chairs, Van Alen International Council Van Alen’s International Council is a platform for exchange among leading architects, designers, developers, and planners, representing practices across more than 26 cities and 15 countries. Members meet twice annually to identify and investigate issues facing cities around the world, and to guide the impact of the Institute’s work. Council members also convene with local policymakers and professionals, identifying topics with the potential for deeper exploration with Van Alen’s international audience.

Taking over from Founding Chair Kai-Uwe Bergmann of BIG and Co-Chair Kim Herforth Nielsen of 3XN, the new leaders of the International Council membership are Alfredo Caraballo, Partner, and Daniel Elsea, Director, at Allies and Morrison in London, UK; and Carl Bäckstrand, Partner and Vice President of White International, and Monica von Schmalensee, Architect and Partner of White Arkitekter in Stockholm, Sweden.

About taking on Council chair responsibilities, Carl Bäckstrand and Monica von Schmalensee said, “Our belief at White Arkitekter that an interdisciplinary approach is required to solve problems is fully in line with Van Alen’s. Leading the Council provides us with a fantastic opportunity to build new alliances and grow our international network, which are essential for gaining new knowledge and perspectives. Through our workshops and charrettes, we can hopefully give something back.”

Alfredo Caraballo and Daniel Elsea add: “The International Council is a unique brain trust where we can share experience and learn from others. We come from a city (London) that has been going through a remarkable process of densification and regeneration, one in which our practice has been instrumental. This experience has convinced us that it is essential to consider not just the core aspects of urban design but also the role of infrastructure, models of governance and development, the role of the private sector in city-making, and the socio-economic forces shaping the contemporary city. We were attracted to Van Alen Institute because it is one of the few organizations that substantively deals with these issues.”

This November 12-16, the International Council will be traveling to Mumbai, India, on its 10th trip.

About Van Alen Institute At Van Alen, we believe design can transform cities, landscapes, and regions to improve people’s lives. We collaborate with communities, scholars, policymakers, and professionals on local and global initiatives that rigorously investigate the most pressing social, cultural, and ecological challenges of tomorrow. Building on more than a century of experience, we develop cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and inventive design competitions.