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David van der Leer, Executive Director of Van Alen Institute, develops projects that explore the nuanced relationship between the built environment and the human being. Under his leadership, Van Alen focuses on the ways our minds and bodies are impacted by the cities we live in, and how we in turn impact the environment.
A highlight is Ecologies of Addiction, a multi-year investigation into the ways digital technologies can shed light on the complex relationship between the city and addictive behaviors; it is currently in its first phase in London.
Since arriving at the Institute in 2013, David has created a period of strategic growth with a new programming hub in the Flatiron district, and new models for connections between the Institute’s interdisciplinary design competitions, research, and public programs. In close collaboration with a vibrant new team and board, David is working to bring Van Alen’s work to places around the U.S. and beyond.
David regularly speaks at universities and conferences, and in 2014, he was selected for the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) 40 Under 40 list of leading land use professionals. At the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, David served as Associate Curator, Architecture and Urban Studies, and the initiator for and Curator of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, a mobile urban think tank, community center, and public gathering space. The lab traveled from New York to Berlin and Mumbai to improve urban life through design and research collaborations between professionals and enthusiastic urbanites. Among David’s other urban projects for the Guggenheim was stillspotting nyc, which took the museum out into the streets by encouraging New Yorkers to find moments of stillness around the five boroughs. In addition, he was co-curator for the American Pavilion of the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2012, and for the 2011 Shenzhen Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, he curated an exhibition on new towns.