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May 5, 2010 Mid-Century Modern

Exploring D.C.’s Modern Embassies

See the Finnish Embassy on Saturday along with other modern embassies.

Are you ready for another tour this Saturday after exploring Hollin Hills last week? I hope so because this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. you have an opportunity to explore the mid-century modern and modern embassies of the European Countries during “Shortcut to Europe: European Union Embassies’ Open House Day.” While more than two dozen embassies will be open, I’ll be focusing on the embassies of Denmark, Finland and Sweden.

“Join the European Union Embassies for a day of family fun, food, and culture,” the event’s brochure says. “This event will give visitors a look inside the embassies and Ambassadors’ residences, many of which are among Washington’s most interesting architectural treasures. Learn how GREEN EUROPE is good for the economy and the environment. Free shuttle buses with two routes will drop visitors off at various embassies.”

Located in Dumbarton Oaks, the Danish Embassy—the first modern and carbon neutral embassy and residence in Washington—was designed in 1947 by Danish architect Vilhelm Lauritzen and opened in 1960. Lauritzen met with Walter Gropius, who, along with students, worked with Lauritzen on the project, which connected the ambassador’s residence to the embassy by a glass corridor. Leading Danish designer Finn Juhl was in charge of furnishing the interior, using such iconic pieces as Arne Jacobsen’s “Swan” and “Egg” chairs, the lighting of Poul Henningsen and some of his own furniture designs.

If you want more on the Danish Embassy, attend the June 4 “Architecture of Diplomacy” program at the embassy. The event is hosted by the embassy and the National Building Museum.

The Finnish Embassy, located on Massachusetts Avenue across from the Naval Observatory, was designed by Mikko Heikkinen and Markku Komonen and opened in 1994. It is the first LEED-certified embassy in Washington.

The House of Sweden, located on the water in Georgetown, houses the Embassy of Sweden and the Embassy of Iceland. The 2006 building, displaying simple, modern Scandinavian lines, was designed by Gert Wingårdh and Tomas Hansen and won Sweden’s top architecture price in 2007.

Have det sjovt, or have fun in Danish. If you can make it, follow me on Twitter and Facebook for images on Saturday.