The Van Alen Institute plans to announce today that its executive director, Adi Shamir, is stepping down.

Shamir cites an interest in focusing on her family and finishing several book projects as the reason for her resignation. She came to the organization in the summer of 2006, following the departure of Ray Gastil, who was there for nearly ten years.

Joan Ockman, a VAI trustee and associate professor at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, will serve as interim director during an international search for Shamir’s replacement, which begins immediately.

While the New York-based organization has a 100-year legacy of hosting competitions and programs dealing with the idea of public architecture, Shamir introduced several important new programs. During her three-year tenure, Shamir conceived and launched the New York Prize, a fellowship program that provides support to early- and mid-career design professionals. Additionally, she oversaw a public, international design competition to re-conceive Gateway National Recreation Area, which stretches across the New York-New Jersey coast. In 2010, Princeton Architectural Press will release Envisioning Gateway, a book that engages VAI’s competition.

Before becoming involved with Van Alen, Shamir served as dean of the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Her current book projects include Bauhaus Style: The Architecture of Hebrew Labor in British Mandate Palestine, and Techné: A Discussion of Contemporary Design Culture, both slated to be published in 2011.

Van Alen is now rolling out a series of new competitions dealing with infrastructure and ecological urbanism. For more information, visit its MannAhatta 2409 site.

Clarification: While Ray Gastil conceived of an award called the New York Prize that was associated with a 2005 design competition, Adi Shamir conceived and launched the New York Prize fellowship program.

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