Our work is centered around three straightforward components: cultural forecasting, institutional and program strategies, and design process development.

We believe that the best ideas and programs for institutions and buildings emerge from solid research and forecast-guided vision. We collaborate closely with our clients, their internal and external stakeholders, and with architects.

In order for project ideas and institutional plans to be strategic and effective for the needs of tomorrow, DVDL DD uses a participatory and interdisciplinary process. This allows our clients to collaborate across the different layers of their organization, (re)connect with external networks, identify joint goals and dreams, and set a path for new goals.

We help our clients develop a better understanding of where communities, cities, and cultures may be headed. We collect, map, and analyze current trends—from the social, demographic, economic, and cultural, to the technological and political—and use these to imagine potential future scenarios. We generate bold program ideas, innovative mission and vision strategies, and craft space programs and building design strategies that tackle unique real-world situations. 

For each project and client, DVDL DD develops a bespoke process. For some clients, we provide a forecast, for others we focus on the architect selection process or a design competition. Some require a more rounded approach that draws on all the tools in our portfolio.

In addition to our cultural forecasting, institutional and program strategies, and design process development services, we can facilitate project and construction management, financial and legal planning, community engagement, communications, branding, and fundraising services through collaborations with external partners in our network.

Leadership Reference Trip visiting The Royal Academy of Arts. Photo by David van der Leer

Cultural Forecasting

  • – Intuitive assessments of cultural and institutional context
  • – Horizon scans with qualitative and quantitative research and context interpretation
  • – Future scenarios and impact assessment

Institutional and Program Strategies

  • – Vision and mission strategies for all goals, from moonshots to small incremental changes
  • – Content and program ideas from concepts to implementation
  • – Peer/competitive analysis
  • – Interdisciplinary public and private expert workshops and think tank sessions
  • – Leadership reference trips with organizational management, boards, and funders

Design Process Development

  • – Space program and design brief development
  • – Selection process development from invitational design competitions to open RFQs and RFPs, and direct commissioning
  • – Jury and Advisory Committee development
  • – Team structuring (from project managers to capital campaign consultants)
  • – Owner representation on design issues


DVDL DD clients and collaborators range from institutions (educational, cultural, museums, and health care), to corporations (real estate developers, hospitality, art fairs, and retail), to individuals and families, and design firms. DVDL DD clients come to us for thorough individually tailored research about where the world is headed, what ideas, programs, and institutional missions to develop, and what types of architecture to create.

Leadership reference trip visiting the Rob Pruitt Barack Obama portraits at Theaster Gates’ Stony Island Arts Bank in Chicago, IL. 

Current and recent clients and collaborators include:

Abu Dhabi Art
Cultural—Abu Dhabi, UAE


The Academy of Natural Sciences
Museum—Philadelphia, PA


Museum/Cultural—Mexico City, Mexico


Band of Outsiders
Retail—Los Angeles, CA


Cooper Robertson
Design Firm—New York City, NY


The Fitler Club


The Forman Family Foundation 
Residential—Philadelphia, PA


The Guggenheim Museum
Museum—New York City, NY and Bilbao, Spain


The Kennedy Center
Culture—Washington, D.C.


Museum/Cultural—Seattle, WA


The National Academy of Design
Culture—New York City, NY


The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Museum—Kansas City, MO


Pennings Real Estate
Developer/Museum—Rosmalen, The Netherlands


Philadelphia Contemporary
Museum—Philadelphia, PA


Van Alen Institute
Culture—New York City, NY


White Architects
Design firm—Stockholm, Sweden


Design firm—Copenhagen, Denmark


Some of our projects are confidential or in the planning stages, and, for that reason, are not listed.


“In 2017, we contracted David van der Leer to lead our design selection process for a new, dynamic, multi-disciplinary art center in Philadelphia. Not only did David create a world-class search process that was all about getting to know people and their design skills, he helped us develop an exceptionally creative program brief, and a series of trips that helped mobilize funding and strategy and gave us new insights into what we wanted from our building. David’s contributions are so valuable that we have retained DVDL Design Decisions to consult with us during the actual design process.”Harry Philbrick, Founding Director, Philadelphia Contemporary

“We hired David van der Leer to create an Intuitive Assessment around possible future developments for our art fair. David conceived a number of ideas for this, from highly innovative moonshots of what Abu Dhabi Art could be, to small incremental changes. David’s clear perspective and creative suggestions were both insightful and productive. It was a pleasure to collaborate with him.” Dyala Nusseibeh, Director, Abu Dhabi Art

“David van der Leer advised us for almost five years while we were conceptualizing a new foundation focused on art and literacy in Mexico City. David took me to far flung places around the world and taught me about the value of design. He created a selection process that connected us to fantastic designers, but, more importantly, his creative insight helped us shape our programs. For instance, he suggested that we create a library bus connecting us to underserved communities around the city. I would work with him and his new agency again in a heartbeat.” Moises Coscio, founder, Alumnos

“I met David van der Leer on a jury competition in DC and felt the process had integrity and focus. I subsequently invited him to advise us on design direction for the visitor experience at the Kennedy Center. David developed a very inclusive process that brought together various constituents including patrons, cultural leaders and our staff and board to envision how to activate our building further and bring together new and diverse audiences. We are in the design and future implementation now and excited to realize the full potential of the Kennedy Center”Deborah Rutter, President, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

“I run a successful business and have a great affinity for art and design. We collaborate with DVDL Design Decisions on various design projects. It is a pleasure working through the research and selection processes with David. His approach is always surprising, yet solid, and educational. He helps us see new program possibilities in both our existing and newly acquired properties, and he has introduced us to great designers along the way.”– Michael Forman, The Forman Family Foundation

“When I was dreaming up a retail concept for Band of Outsiders, it was vital for it to be fresh, modern, thought-provoking, and outside of the norms and tropes of typical fashion retail. So, naturally, I went to David for advice. He was sensitive to my pragmatic needs and creative goals and was able to guide me through the process of vetting architects, and, ultimately, lead me to LOT-EK, a wonderful firm who worked on two of my stores and have become like family. I couldn’t have found them without David’s guidance and foresight.”Scott Sternberg, founder, Band of Outsiders

“At Pennings, we develop and build buildings every day, but conceptualizing a cultural building within a historic structure was something we needed help with. David van der Leer helped us think through scenarios and presentations for what we believe can become a major new art institution in The Netherlands.”Frank Homburg, Director, Pennings

“Sometimes as designers you need an informed outside voice to give you new ideas, shake things up, and bring people together. Over the years we have occasionally brought in David van der Leer to do exactly that. David is a great listener, strategist, and moderator. He gives great design direction that helps us develop our ideas further.”Kim Herforth Nielsen, founder, 3XN

“We hired DVDL DD while we were deep into plans to open a new pop culture museum in New York City. With a potential opening still three years away, David did cultural forecasting to anticipate what audiences would want and need by the planned opening in 2023. Building on his findings, he then led several inspiring workshops with me and local cultural creators to re-envision the exhibitions and public programs. David’s team developed a curatorial masterplan and from there a critique of the existing designs for existing exhibitions as well as for our overall architecture. The results were exciting and highly creative, and his process was always thoughtful and thought-provoking. I only wish I’d started working with David much earlier in the process to benefit from his research and insights.”  Jasen Emmons, Curatorial Director, Museum of Pop Culture NYC 

“As our team was reimagining all the traditional aspects of our institution, David helped us see that a series of fairly small temporary interventions could offer high-impact, low-cost ways of engaging people. We hired David and his team to develop these interventions, and came away with a solid plan for implementation. In a collaborative process around the future of culture and the future of behavior, DVDL DD developed a roadmap for us that is highly flexible, open-ended, and participatory.” Scott Cooper, President & CEO, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

Philadelphia Contemporary Leadership Reference Trip visiting the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort-Worth, Texas. Photo by David van der Leer