Henry Grabar is a freelance writer and a former fellow at CityLab. He lives in New York.
A new documentary examines the Dutch approach.
A month ago, in writing about how the U.S. designs its embassies, I came across the recent, optimistic State Department program "Design Excellence" [PDF]. The idea is to return U.S. embassies to cities after a period of suburban exile, and to entrust their design to our best architects. Embassies could again represent the best of the American design tradition.
The Dutch, of course, beat us to it. A new film, Mission Statements: The Architecture of Dutch Diplomacy, from director Jord den Hollander, explores twenty years of Dutch diplomatic architecture. Showing at New York's Architecture and Design Film Festival on Friday the 19th and Sunday the 21st, the film investigates the impact and efficacy of outspoken diplomatic structures by Rem Koolhaas, among others. The Koolhaas-designed Berlin embassy is shown above.
The film attempts to answer the central question of high-quality embassy design: What does it accomplish?
Courtesy Mission Statements.
HT Urban Omnibus.
Top image: Flickr user Velcro.