David van der Leer, who with Maria Nicanor developed and headed the curatorial team of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, will take the helm at Van Alen Institute beginning May 6. The NYC-based nonprofit architectural organization, whose mission is “to promote innovative thinking about the role of architecture and design in civic life,” selected van der Leer as executive director after an international search. He will succeed Olympia Kazi, who stepped down last May. Since then, Jeff Byles has served as interim director.

‚ÄúDavid van der Leer represents a new type of commitment to the public realm that makes urban issues accessible to architecture and design professionals and everyday urban citizens alike,” said Stephen Cassell, chairman of the Van Alen’s board of trustees, in a statement issued Tuesday. “Van Alen Institute welcomes his initiative to develop more national and international competitions, studies, and programs relevant to the understanding of contemporary urban life.”