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.
Van Alen Books has given the Chelsea institution a lively storefront presence on 22nd street where its acid yellow interior with stadium-step seating designed by Lot-EK architects never fail to attract curious passers-by in addition to avid attendees to the frequent lectures and lively panel exchanges that have been the hallmark of Kazi’s direction, while completing the “Gateway: Visions for an Urban National Park” competition and book initiated in collaboration with the National Parks Service in 2007.
Kazi came to the Van Alen in January 2010 from the Institute for Urban Design that she directed since 2007 organizing its inaugural “Urban Design Week” with an award from the Rockefeller Foundation’s 2009 Cultural Innovation Fund.
Trained as an architect at the University of Florence, Kazi has worked as a critic and curator of architecture in Milan and New York. Before moving to New York, she served as a junior curator at the Milan Triennale and as an editor of Wound magazine.
Stepping in as Interim Executive Director will be Jeff Byles, most recently the Van Alen’s director of research.
“I want to thank Olympia for her leadership in making Van Alen a vibrant platform for research and debate about the public realm,” said Stephen Cassell, Chair of the Institute’s Board of Trustees.