David van der Leer, Principal of DVDL DD, is a consultant, curator, 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. Creative, intelligent, intuitive, and forward-looking, David 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.

Our Team

Dana Golan Communications & Research

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.

David Adam Nagy Executive Assistant & Research

David is a graduate of The Juilliard School and Bard College where he studied music and literature. An active bassoon soloist and collaborator on and off stage, David is building a portfolio in art direction and design. His interest in curation and architecture led him to work at DVDL DD. In 2019, he launched a unisex lifestyle brand with a line of crazy silk streetwear.

Extended Network

Dan Muro Research & Visioning

Dan graduated from Wesleyan University in 2017 with a B.A. in cultural anthropology. His capstone was an interdisciplinary study of  land development in the New Jersey Meadowlands. Since graduating, Dan has worked at Van Alen Institute, NYCLU, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, and is currently on the production team of an independent feature film.

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.

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).

Kristine Ericson Research & Visioning

Kristine is an architectural designer and a PhD candidate in the History of Science and Medicine program at Yale. She earned her Master in Architecture degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and has worked as a designer in the United States, Denmark, and Norway. 

Rebecca Cook Research & Visioning

Rebecca Cook is an M.S. Urban Planning candidate at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation with concentrations in data analytics and the built environment. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Rutgers University and worked as a designer in Philadelphia and New York before beginning graduate studies.

Past Contributors

Maya Ephrem

Helen Farley

David Bruce

Mahdi Sabbagh

You Wu

Olivia Maccioni