Olympia Kazi has resigned as executive director of the Van Alen Institute one year and a day since the opening of Van Alen Books, possibly her most visible contribution to the 100-year-old organization known for its engagement with pressing urban issues through competitions, exhibitions, research, and public programs.
Last Friday night, AN‘s William Menking and Aaron Levy launched their new book Four Conversations on the Architecture of Discourse at the Van Alen Bookstore in Chelsea. The book’s publisher, Thomas Weaver of the Architectural Association in London, and the Van Alen’s Olympia Kazi we on hand to help frame the evening’s discourse on discourse.
The new book springs from an earlier effort called Architecture on Display: the History of the Venice Biennale of Architecture, aka “the white book.” In true manifesto fashion, the group sidestepped the official Biennale promo machine by publishing the white book outside of the established Biennale channels and then blanketed the 2010 festival with more than 600 copies. That book transcribed interviews with former Biennale directors and recovered an important history of the forum. From that quick and dirty approach emerged a longer term plot for the “black book” of Four Conversations, which focused architectural display and its relationship to the public.
With all the NYU real estate hubbub going on around LaGuardia Place in Greenwich Village, it’s refreshing to hear of a quiet transaction between two locals. This week, the AIANY signed the lease for 532 LaGuardia, an empty retail space owned by local lumber magnate Guy Apicella just one door south of the AIANY’s current home, the Center for Architecture at 536 LaGuardia.
The rumor has been confirmed that Greek-born, Italian-trained dynamo Olympia Kazi is taking over as executive director of the Van Alen Institute as of January 18. After a two-year stint as same at the Institute for Urban Design, where she put the spin on that org’s thirty-year mission to prove that “cities can be designed,” she will now, we presume, have a deeper pool and a wider horizon from which to launch some really big plans. Stay tuned for the official statement.