Van Alen Institute convenes international council of design leaders in Venice

The Van Alen Institute, a New York-based organization dedicated to advancing innovation in architecture and urban design, recently convened its new International Council of leading architects, planners and designers for the first meeting in Venice, Italy during the preview of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition at la Biennale di Venezia. Launching with a core group of 13 firms—representing practices across more than 17 cities and 10 countries—this network of accomplished design practitioners will meet twice annually to identify and investigate issues facing cities internationally, and to guide the impact of the Institute’s public programming, research and design competitions.

Kai-Uwe Bergmann, partner and head of business development at international architectural firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Van Alen Institute Trustee, will lead the International Council as chair and oversee its expansion as an international network.

“The International Council is a great platform to generate conversation around key urban questions with a truly global perspective, and I’m glad to see Van Alen bringing together expertise at this scale,” said Bergmann. “I’m pleased to have the opportunity to push it forward as Council Chair.”

International Council members will participate in conversations and working sessions to identify topics with potential for deeper exploration within the design field, which will inform the Van Alen Institute’s ongoing work. Members will also meet with local governmental entities, developers, researchers and designers. Fall meetings will take place in New York City and spring meetings will be held in other cities around the world.

“We are excited to elevate our work to an increasingly global perspective with the rigorous thinking and participation of the International Council” said David van der Leer, Executive Director of the Van Alen Institute. “I’m honoured to begin with such a stellar list of participants, and I look forward to watching this community strengthen as a meaningful international network over the coming years.”

Van Alen’s current projects include the multi-year initiative Elsewhere: Escape and the Urban Landscape, focused on how and why we escape from urban life. The Institute has hosted two seasons of public programs as part of Elsewhere, and will launch two new design competitions in the coming months. International Council members will begin development of upcoming multi-year initiatives to guide the Institute’s future work and advance new conversations in the field of design.

Participating firs are: Aedas (Hong Kong, London, Dubai, among others); Allied Works Architecture (Portland, NYC); BIG (NYC, Copenhagen, Beijing); Jan Gehl Architects (Copenhagen, San Francisco, NYC), joining fall 2014; LAVA (Berlin, Stuttgart, Sydney, among others); Olson Kundig Architects (Seattle); Pei Cobb Freed & Partners (NYC); Snøhetta (NYC, Oslo); Studio Egret West (London); White Architecture (Malmö, London, Stockholm, among others); Wingårdhs (Göteborg, Stockholm, Malmö); 3XN (Copenhagen); and 5468796 Architecture (Winnipeg).

Spring 2014 International Council Meeting attendees included: Chris Bosse, LAVA; Andrew Bromberg, Aedas; Carl Bäckstrand, White Architecture; Jay Berman, Pei Cobb Freed & Partners; Craig Dykers, Snøhetta; Jonas Edblad, Wingårdhs; Christophe Egret, Studio Egret West; Johanna Hurme, 5468796 Architecture; Tom Kundig, Olson Kundig Architects; Brent Linden, Allied Works Architecture; Alan Maskin, Olson Kundig Architects; Elaine Molinar, Snøhetta; Kim Herforth Nielsen, 3XN; Sasa Radulovic, 5468796 Architecture; Alexander Rieck, LAVA; Monica Von Schmalensee, White Architecture; Tobias Wallisser, LAVA; David West, Studio Egret West; and Gert Wingårdh, Wingårdhs.

Since its founding in 1894, the Van Alen Institute has promoted innovative thinking about the role of architecture and design in civic life. Today the Institute’s competitions, research, and public programs shape the public conversation and bring design excellence to the built environment of cities and sites around the world. Van Alen’s widely influential legacy of competitions includes Public Property: An Ideas Competition for Governors Island (1996), which kicked off an international conversation about Governors Island and its redevelopment as a public resource, and TKTS2K: A Competition to Design a New York Icon (1999), which led to the TKTS booth in Times Square and reactivated the public space at the busiest pedestrian intersection in New York City.

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