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Spring Books Soirée
Book Launch Party

We launched our spring program festival with a celebration of books by designers and urban thinkers we admire. We toasted the fresh ideas hitting the shelves this spring in the company of the book authors.

Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives by Sarah Williams Goldhagen (HarperCollins)

One of the nation’s chief architecture critics reveals how the environments we build profoundly shape our feelings, memories, and well-being, and argues that we must harness this knowledge to construct a world better suited to human experience—a sentiment deeply connected to our work at Van Alen. Taking us on a fascinating journey through some of the world’s best and worst landscapes, buildings, and cityscapes, Sarah Williams Goldhagen draws from recent research in cognitive neuroscience and psychology to demonstrate how people’s experiences of the places they build are central to their wellbeing, their physical health, their communal and social lives, and even their very sense of themselves. From this foundation, Goldhagen presents a powerful case that societies must use this knowledge to rethink what and how they build: the world needs better-designed, healthier environments that address the complex range of human individual and social needs.

Blue Dunes: Climate Change by Design edited by Jesse M. Keenan and Claire Weisz (Columbia Books on Architecture and the City)

Blue Dunes chronicles the design of artificial barrier islands developed to protect the Mid-Atlantic region of North America in the face of climate change—an urgent issue Van Alen is approaching through multiple projects. It narrates the complex, and sometimes contradictory, research agenda of an unlikely team of analysts, architects, ecologists, engineers, physicists and planners addressing extreme weather and sea level rise within the practical limitations of science, politics and economics. The book is informed in part by the authors’ finalist proposal for Rebuild by Design, which included an offshore barrier island chain centered on the New York and New Jersey harbor to make the region more resilient to future storms. Van Alen Institute was one of four New York-based nonprofits selected to develop and manage Rebuild by Design, an initiative of President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

This event was part of Arteries: NYC in Circulation, Van Alen’s spring program festival from May 12-18 exploring: What defines a city’s lifeblood? We journeyed to the heart of the metropolis as we explored the myriad main streets and water mains, multicultural conduits and transportation corridors—both designed and off-the-cuff—that shape the urban experience and route our everyday lives. Across seven days of debates, explorations, and performances, we discovered a new understanding of our city as we traverse its arteries.