You're using an unsupported browser. This site may not look optimal.

International Council 2019: London

May 15–17

All photography courtesy Marina Piedade
Private Means to Public Ends

As global cities look for creative ways to keep pace with unprecedented growth, they are increasingly turning to private development to deliver on a host of public assets, from housing and open space to full-scale neighborhood regeneration.

In New York City, recent contention around the opening of Hudson Yards thrust the topic of private sector investment in city-making to the forefront of public debate. The new $25 billion development—the largest private real estate project in the country—attracted both acclaim and criticism. Some hail the complex of restaurants, shopping mall, offices and apartments as New York’s greatest new neighborhood and a wellspring of new tax revenue for the city. Its critics have labelled the project a soulless playground for visitors and the wealthy that offers nothing for the majority of New Yorkers.

So how do we reconcile this trend towards privatization with the goal of fostering inclusive growth in cities? What are the ways that the public, private, and design sectors can work together more effectively to ensure that the outcomes are areas of the city that serve the diverse needs of urban residents?

To furnish lessons for the future, the Van Alen International Council looked to London as a city in which private money has long had a significant role in shaping the city. London’s Great Estates, established largely in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, remain in private ownership today and, through their stewardship, continue to strongly influence the capital’s streetscape.


As part of the trip, we were able to collaborate with renowned global affairs publication Monocle. Through this partnership, Council and Board members Jared Della Valle (Alloy)Alfredo Caraballo (Allies and Morrison), and Monica von Schmalensee (White Arkitekter) sat down with Andrew Tuck, host of the magazine’s The Urbanist podcast, for a conversation about the role of private development in inclusive urban growth. The resulting episode also features a segment on the Council’s visit to King’s Cross and a discussion with board member Carla Swickerath (Studio Libeskind) about her work on the new World Trade Center site.



Carl Bäckstrand, White Arkitekter (Council Co-Chair)
Alfredo Caraballo,
Allies and Morrison (Council Co-Chair)
Daniel Elsea
, Allies and Morrison (Council Co-Chair)
Monica von Schmalensee, White Arkitekter (Council Co-Chair)
Katrin Binder, Henning Larsen
Jan Bunge, Squint Opera
Niklas Carlen, Wingardhs
Jonas Edblad, Wingardhs
Eric Escalante, Studio Saxe
Gabriella Frank, Olson Kundig
Karen Frome, Rise Projects
Denzil Gallagher, BuroHappold
Benjamin Garcia Saxe, Studio Saxe
Hauke Jungiohann, BuroHappold
Kevin Kudo-King, Olson Kundig
Alan Maskin, Olson Kundig
Nat Oppenheimer, Silman
Nick Taylor, Squint Opera
Susanna Sirefman, Dovetail Design Strategists

The 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 public programming, research, and design competitions. Council members also convene with local policymakers, developers, researchers, and designers, identifying topics with the potential for deeper exploration with Van Alen’s international audience.

The Council is currently led by Co-Chairs Alfredo Carabello and Daniel Elsea of Allies and Morrison, and Carl Bäckstrand and Monica von Schmalensee of White Arkitekter. The next International Council meeting will be held October 30⁠ to November 2, 2019 in New York.

For more information, please contact Stacey Anderson, Associate Director of Business Development and Special Initiatives at, or 212-924-7000.


Van Alen International Council May 2019 London, UK photo: Marina Piedade