Van Alen Report gathers expert perspectives on subjects that are redefining society’s relationship to cities.

Crown Sky Garden. Image: Mikyoung Kim Design


Van Alen Report (VAR) is a broad, sweeping examination of the present and things to come, intended to catalyze fresh thinking among those who shape cities—designers, planners, policymakers—as well as anyone eager to learn more about how the future of the built environment will impact their minds, bodies, and everyday lives. An interdisciplinary digest that explores how people and communities can successfully adapt to change, the report gathers expert perspectives on subjects that are redefining society’s relationship to cities and the built environment on a local, national, and global scale.

VAR 20 | Healthy Brains, Healthy Cities

January 2019

Cognitive and behavioral science research is revealing more and more about how cities impact people physically, emotionally, and neurologically. With more people expected to live in cities than ever before, this growing body of knowledge is most welcome. However, knowledge alone is not enough to produce better, healthier cities. Just as new technologies and scientific approaches have provided fresh insight into how cities impact the mind and body, it will take new thinking among city-makers to harness that information and re-imagine the role that design can play in promoting mental health and well-being.

VAR 19 | America’s Infrastrucutre

September 2017

For the first Van Alen Report in twelve years, we examine the dire condition of America’s infrastructure. Experts from various disciplines participate in a sweeping exploration of how leaders may repair the nation’s infrastructure in ways that support better and more just outcomes for all.

VAR 18 | Civic Exchange: Competitions and Dialogues

June 2005

VAR 18 looks at recreation, featuring projects on a competition for a new information system for Lower Manhattan, a competition for a recreational pavilion in Coney Island’s amusement park, and an exhibition about the accessibility of recreation and leisure across cultures and economic levels.

VAR 17 | Variable City: Taking it to the Streets

October 2004

VAR 17 centers on the Variable City project, which looks at Fox Square from multiple perspectives and interdisciplinary methods to emphasize art’s role in city design.

VAR 16 | OPEN: New Designs for Public Space

June 2003

Van Alen Report 16 is a special edition focusing on the exhibition OPEN: Design for Public Space. To view a hard copy at Van Alen’s offices, email

VAR 15 | The /Swiss/ Section

April 2003

VAR 15 explores the exhibition, The/Swiss/Section, on designing and building in Switzerland, while paying attention to signature cultural projects and spaces of everyday life.

VAR 14 | Information Exchange: How Cities Renew, Rebuild, and Remember


VAR 14 is a special edition on the exhibition “Renewing, Rebuilding, Remembering” about how cities change after disaster, which features 7 cities: New York, Beirut, Berlin, Kobe, Manchester, Oklahoma City, San Fransisco, and Sarajevo. To view a hard copy at Van Alen’s offices, email

VAR 13 | Take the R Train: Riding the Rails from Downtown to Long Island City

August 2002

VAR 13 follows the R train, focusing on new projects along the way such as SHoP’s Rector Street Bridge and MoMA QNS as a reflection on culture centers and the arts.

VAR 12 | Urban Design Now

April 2002

VAR 12 asks, “What is Urban Design?” and features the exhibition, “Renewing, Rebuilding, Remember” on seven cities that have rebuilt after disaster.

VAR 11 | Designing Queens Plaza: A Design Ideas Competition

January 2002

VAR 11 looks at the design ideas competition for Queens Plaza, which considered the space as representative of both change and continuity in the city.

VAR 10 | Recreating the City

December 2001

In the wake of 9/11, VAR 10 explores how to rebuild after tragedy in an interview with Natalie Fizer and Mabel O. Wilson on Monuments and Memorials, and features a piece on BAM and cultural districts by Barrett Feldman.

VAR 9 | Architecture + Water

May 2001

VAR 9 features the exhibition “Architecture + Water,” an interview with Lewis.Tsurumaki.Lewis and a letter from Nicholas de Monchaux on the design of Olympic cities.

VAR 8 | Park=City: Designing Downsview Park, Toronto

December 2000

VAR 8 explores urban park design through a competition to design Toronto’s Downsview Park. The winning design, Tree City, is a combination of park lands that connect to the city around it while remaining a natural site.

VAR 7 | TKTS2K: An Icon at the Crossroads

May 2000

VAR 7 focuses on the design competition “TKTS2K: An Icon at the Crossroads” to design the iconic ticket booth in Times Square.

VAR 6 | Digital Dilemma: Where Is the ‘Public’ in e-topia?

November 1999

VAR 6 asks, “Is public space dead?” and features TKTS2K in Times Square, Megadesign vs. Other Urbanisms and Pier 40 Park.

VAR 5 | Community Property: What Drives Public Design?

March 1999

VAR 5 asks “How can a city get the best public architecture while fully engaging the community in the process?” The edition features the “Pier Pressure: Design By Collage” competition, Community Design and other issues in public design.

VAR 4 | Industrial Evolution: Transforming the Urban Waterfront

October 1998

VAR 4 explores the transfer of New York City’s waterfront to the public realm and what that means for recreation, entertainment, and tourism.

VAR 3 | Health and the City

May 1997

VAR 3 looks at topics from the “In Recovery” forum like Public Health/Public Space, Defensible Space and Environmental Justice, in addition to Green Skyscrapers, Governors Island, Culture Exchange Competition Dinkeloo Fellowship, and River Project Exhibition.

VAR 2 | Real Downtown/Virtual Downtown

September 1996

VAR 2 covers the Fall 1996 Program Schedule about Heath and the City and Public Private Property, as well as the 1996 Paris Prize Competition, the Future of Work and the Future of Downtown Forums.



The very first Van Alen Report defines the issues and programs that make up the 1996 Projects in Public Architecture: Real Downtown/Virtual Downtown, Public-Private Property and Health and the City.