David van der Leer, Principal of DVDL DD, is a consultant, educator, moderator, researcher, strategist, and writer. David’s passion is reinventing the institutions of yesterday—and dreaming up the most inspirational institutions of tomorrow—through excellent architecture and interdisciplinary programs.

David founded DVDL DD in 2018 after having worked and consulted with institutions, government agencies, corporations, and individuals for 15 years. He has extensive experience in bringing together interdisciplinary teams to create successful design projects. David teaches a course called (Re)Programming Museums at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation.

David has created, chaired, and led nearly 30 design competitions, and he has commissioned numerous design and art projects. He enjoys rethinking conventional design competition and commissioning processes, and actively promotes new practices in events like the Design Competition Conference he developed and co-chaired at Harvard University in 2015.

Born and raised in The Netherlands, David is a graduate of Erasmus University Rotterdam, and of the High Impact Leadership program at Columbia University’s Business School.

Photo by Marcus Morris

From 2013 to 2018, David was the Executive Director of Van Alen Institute—a 124-year-old design nonprofit that develops cross-disciplinary research, provocative public programs, and inventive design competitions to make cities better places. Prior to repositioning Van Alen Institute, David created and curated the Architecture and Urban Studies program for the Guggenheim Museum from 2008 to 2013. At the Guggenheim, David developed and co-curated the highly publicized BMW Guggenheim Lab that traveled from New York City to Berlin and Mumbai in its own building. He curated projects like stillspotting nyc and exhibitions like Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward, among others. In 2012, he co-curated the United States Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale, and in 2011 he curated for the Shenzhen & Hong Kong Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture. In 2010, The New York Times recognized David as one of ten promising curators of the next generation.

Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward installation view. Photo by David Heald
BMW Guggenheim Lab designed by Atelier Bow-Wow at its first stop in New York City. Photo by David Heald

Among David’s former collaborators are AECOM, The Atlantic, The Battery Conservancy, BMW, the City of New York, the City of Miami, the City of Washington, D.C., the City of West Palm Beach, Cornell University, Columbia University, The Flatiron Bid, Harvard University, HUD, Imperial College, the National Park Service, Miami-Dade County, the National Capitol Planning Commission, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, The New Yorker, The (Obama) White House, and The Times Square Alliance.

David has been profiled for Architect, A+ U, Architectural Record, The Economist, Fast Company, NRC Next, Surface magazine, The Singapore Architect, The New York Times, Vrij Nederland, and more. In 2014, David was selected for the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) 40 Under 40 list of leading land use professionals.

Besides academic speaking engagements from Columbia University, to Harvard University, and Tsinghua University, David has spoken at the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Guggenheim Museum, Helsinki Design Week, MIPIM, MoMA, SXSW, ULI, the United Nations, UN Habitat’s World Urban Forum, the White House Climate Action Plan, World Architecture Festival, and the World Economic Forum in New York.

David’s projects have appeared in national and international media, including ABC, Abitare, Architectural Digest, Architectural Record, The Art Newspaper, Art in America, Art Forum, BBC, Designboom, Domus, Dwell, China Daily, Forbes, The Guardian, International Herald Tribune, International Business Times, Metropolis, Le Moniteur, the Miami Herald, New York magazine, The New York Times, NPR, The Real Deal, Die Tageszeitung, Time magazine, Wallpaper, the Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

Flatiron Skyline, Winning entry for the 2016 Flatiron Plaza Holiday Public Design Competition by LOT, 2016—photo by Brian Ferry courtesy Van Alen Institute


DVDL DD is a networked agency led by David van der Leer. Depending on each project’s needs, we bring together a steady group of independent and experienced professionals for forecasting, research, concept development, project management, trip coordination, editorial, and graphic design work.


Yifan Chen Executive Assistant

Yifan ensures the smooth operation of DVDL DD’s office space and coordinates research with the rest of the DVDL DD team. He is dedicated to the study and creation of place in its conceptual and physical dimensions, drawing on a hybrid of Eastern and Western cultures and design languages. Yifan holds a Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College and is currently pursuing an M.A in Historical and Sustainable Architecture from NYU.

Alexandra Fanelli Project Coordinator

Alexandra is an Italian museum educator and researcher who envisions new ways of living the museum experience. Whether in research or project coordination work for our clients, Alexandra seeks out innovative ways to expand access to museums and to empower individuals through creative learning. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and Museum Professions from the Fashion Institute of Technology and a Master’s Degree in Museum Anthropology from Columbia University.



Roy Cremers Cultural Strategy

Roy Cremers is an­ Amsterdam-based innovator, moderator, podcast host, writer and strategist. He brings his expertise in connecting art (institutions) with audiences and establishing more engaged relationships to DVDL DD’s Europe-based projects through conceptual and strategic development as well as project management. Roy has worked as a press officer, launched a gallery space, was grants officer at a public art fund and in 2010 he founded, the first crowdfunding platform for art and creativity in Europe.

Nico Wheadon Cultural Strategy

Nico is a New Haven-based art advisor, curator, educator and writer who works with the DVDL DD network to forecast cultural trends and to chart out responsive cultural strategies for DVDL DD clients. She, alongside her partner Malik D. Lewis, is founder and principal of bldg fund LLC, an innovation platform for BIPOC artists, entrepreneurs and neighbors. Nico currently serves on the Board of Governors at the National Academy of Design, and the Advisory Board for the Lubin School of Business Transformative Leadership Program.

Yvette Y. Lee Business Strategy

Yvette  Y. Lee is a New York and New Jersey-based art historian, curator, and senior non-profit executive who brings over 25 years of experience collaborating with museums, foundations, galleries, artists, corporate sponsors, donors, and boards to DVDL DD’s client projects. She has worked with numerous artists and institutions including the Whitney Museum of American Art, American Federation of Arts, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Skystone Foundation (James Turrell, Roden Crater) as well as Faou Foundation (Mariko Mori).

Jon Maass Space Planning & Programming

Jon Maass is a New York State-based architect, builder and museum professional who brings an expert knowledge of space planning, project management, and space programming to the DVDL DD network.  He has programmed and/or directed projects at the Toledo Museum of Art with SANAA, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston with the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C. with Steven Holl, and the Museum of Modern Art and the experimental theater group, TR Warsawa in Warsaw, Poland, both designed by Thomas Phifer.

Dan Muro Research & Visioning

Dan is a Brooklyn-based writer, musician, and researcher. He received his B.A. in cultural anthropology from Wesleyan University in 2017, with a focus on development studies and experimental ethnography. He has since worked for cultural and political organizations across New York City such as Van Alen Institute, New York Civil Liberties Union, and Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.

Greg Barton Research & Visioning

Greg Barton is a researcher and curator focused on spatial politics. He holds a MS in Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices in Architecture from Columbia University GSAPP and has worked on projects for/with a number of artists, architects, activists, and nonprofit institutions, including the Canadian Centre for Architecture and Storefront for Art and Architecture. His texts have appeared in various places, most recently in The Museum is Not Enough (CCA/Sternberg Press).

Dana Golan Research & Visioning

Dana comes from a background of graphic design and photography. A graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in Graphic Design and a minor in Comparative History of Ideas grew her interest in art history and cultural institutions. She has worked in communications with various nonprofits and photography agencies and is pursuing her own photographic practice.

Aileen Kwun Research & Visioning

Aileen Kwun is a writer, editor, producer, and consultant with an expertise in design and culture. She contributes to publications internationally and was  a senior editor at Dwell  and  Surface, as well as a founding member of Superscript and a strategist at  Project Projects. Her first book, Twenty Over Eighty: Conversations on a Lifetime in Architecture and Design, was published by Princeton Architectural Press.  Aileen  holds degrees from UC Berkeley, the Columbia Publishing Course, and the School of Visual Arts.