Aaron Britt, an editor at Dwell, interviewed me after a panel on embassy design he moderated last May. The conclusion? I talk too fast. But if you listen at warp speed, you’ll get a sense of what we talked about at the event, hosted by the Finnish embassy. I raise the question: If security needs are now so onerous that it is impossible design a decent embassy building, do we need to think about a “post-embassy” architecture? Would it be better, perhaps, to disperse embassy functions rather than concentrate them in walled compounds? That way we could at least separate public diplomacy from the rest of the pack, and get our libraries and information centers back into the urban fray, and connect them once again with the daily life of real people, the souls we hope to convince that America is not, in the end, such a bad idea. (Actually, that’s beginning to happen… maybe. Look out for a Washington Post story on that soon.)
That green stuff behind us in the video? A view out the window of the stunningly beautiful Embassy of Finland: open, accessible and a tremendous asset to its country’s reputation. The sort of building we have decided the United States cannot build.