Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Diplomacy Through Architecture

It's always nice when NPR does a piece on what I do. Well, sort of. All Things Considered produced the segment "Can U.S. Embassies Be Safe Without Being Unsightly?" that is one of the initiatives my work supports. And it makes a valid point, our embassies overseas are often the first interaction locals have with the United States. So it helps for us to physically represent the openness and freedom we cherish for those other nations to see.

Video on Diplomacy Through Architecture (8:20)

What I'm not sure it captures is that to build world-class facilities designed by some of the best architect firms in the world, we (meaning I) am often working with construction firms who oversee foreign (meaning local national) sub-contractors trying to build to some fairly rigorous standards. I know that Tony Stark made the Ironman suit in a cave and we're both MIT alumni, but he didn't have to get permits from the local government. All kidding aside, we have to make sure our embassies can survive stuff like this: Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Diplomatic facilities. So the buildings have to be attractive, yet tough and resilient under very dangerous situations.

If an embassy was to be anthropomorphized, my guess that it would look a bit like Lara Croft.
The Embassy and 007?
So yeah, that's my job...but maybe not quite so glamorous in real life as it is in my mind.
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