Van Alen Books is a new architecture and design bookstore and public reading room located at Van Alen Institute's headquarters at 30 West 22nd Street in Manhattan's Flatiron District. Opening on April 25, 2011, this highly visible storefront space will be New York City's only book emporium and gathering place devoted singularly to architecture and design publications.
Van Alen Books is motivated by an urgent need for spaces where architecture books can be discovered and discussed. Especially in New York - with its large and active population of architects, designers, educators, students, urban advocates, and critics - the lack of a single space devoted to public discourse about architecture and design publications has been keenly felt in all corners of the design community, notably since the closure of Urban Center Books in early 2010. Continuing the legacy of this landmark bookstore, Van Alen Books will make available its remaining stock, while collaborating with supportive publishers to offer a selection of new and noteworthy titles. Van Alen Institute brings expertise and a broad network to the creation of this missing focal point for design professions and the greater public, an effort in keeping with the Institute's longstanding mission to champion projects in public architecture.
An intense program of events marks Van Alen Books as the newest initiative of Van Alen's ground-floor project space devoted to architectural and urban experimentation. Beyond its role as a destination bookstore, this dynamic space offers a place where books will be read and debated through a curatorial program exploring the past and future of architectural publishing. Curated with Cristina Goberna of design practice Fake Industries, events will include multidisciplinary performances, debates, discussions, and storytelling sessions with an international cast of architects, critics, scholars, and others. As a laboratory for new publishing models, Van Alen Books will also host a publishing summit in Fall 2011 exploring what form content will take in the twenty-first century.
The bookstore and its public programs are showcased in a new space designed by the architectural firm LOT-EK. Inviting the public to linger and browse, the store features a 14-foot-tall staircase crafted from a stack of 70 recycled doors, which step up to create an amphitheater overlooking 22nd Street through glazed storefront windows. Sourced from Build It Green! NYC, a nonprofit supplier of salvaged building materials, the solid wood doors form a triangular platform evoking the steps of Times Square's TKTS booth, an iconic project originated through Van Alen Institute's 1999 design competition.