Design Diplomacy in Denmark
"I have found that there are few people well equipped to sort through the cacophony of competitive interests in a constructive way that ultimately achieves harmony. By virtue of our training, skills, and perspective, architects should play that role, but, sadly, we rarely do." He continues: "the creative process of architects is a constructive inclusive process—therefore more diplomatic than the aggressive and adversarial methods of engagement in politics."
Another American architect who has taken on civic responsibility as a design problem is Harvey Gantt, FAIA, former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. He participated in a conference session focusing on how to persuade more architects to take leadership roles in politics.
According to Philip Bernstein, FAIA, one of the conference organizers, Gantt described the architectural sensibilities that the profession can take into political office: "the ability to see a broad picture, to analyze a problem, break it down into components, and then rebuild it from the perspective of someone whose point of view is synthesis, not just collecting data."
Charlotte has recently appeared in a new list of "most livable cities" based on planning initiatives and regionalism. This may well be because of Gantt's mayoral initiatives for public transportation, dispersed housing, and enhancement of the city's "uptown."
The conference has ended, but the work continues. Ambassador Swett hopes it will inspire the design of "a blueprint that will frame the future influence of our profession beyond the limitations of bricks and mortar. Such a plan would suggest that our fellow architects take up leadership roles in order to balance the tectonic, economic, and political aspects of city/state planning more consciously."
The conference was organized, sponsored, and supported by: The American Institute of Architects International Committee Professional Interest Area, AIA Continental Europe, AIA London/UK, Architects' Council of Europe, The Embassy of the U.S.A. in Denmark, CMD Group/Cahners, Byggfakta Scandinavia, Velux Foundation, McGraw-Hill Construction Information Group, the Federation of Danish Architects, the Danish Centre for Architecture, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture, and The Design Futures Council.
A cityscape of the northern Danish city of Aalborg, with old red buildings, smokestacks, and the harbor.
The colorful port buildings of Nyhavn, as portrayed in Legoland, in Billund, Denmark, where even the toys take architecture seriously.
The Planetarium in Copenhagen, Denmark, features a space theater, shows, and Omnimax films.
The respect for architecture, both traditional and modern, is partly responsible for a vibrant urban life in Danish cities such as Odense.
Model of a KLM plane and airport Legoland, Billund.
The Funen Art Gallery in Odense features Danish art from 1750 to present day.
A restored Viking ship, once used for cargo, is now housed at the Naval Museum at Frederikshavn, on Denmark's northeast coast.
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